Causes and symptoms of African swine fever, danger to humans and how it is transmitted

Causes and symptoms of African swine fever, danger to humans and how it is transmitted

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Owners of cattle farms in Russia are concerned about the safety of animals due to the active spread of African swine fever. Every farmer should study the symptoms of infection, how it spreads, and the potential danger. Also important is the question of whether it is permissible to eat the meat of contaminated livestock.

General characteristics of the disease

Swine plague is a viral infection that is highly resistant to treatment. According to experts, the causative agent of the infection remains viable for 1.5 years. The virus is dangerous for individuals of any age and in the natural environment is transmitted by wild African pigs, rodents, birds, domestic and wild animals that have had contact with infected livestock. People can also contribute to the spread of the disease.

At the initial stage of infection, individuals look healthy, since the main processes take place inside the body. The consequence of infection is multiple hemorrhages in connective tissues, enlargement of the liver, spleen and kidneys. The lymph of swine fever deaths looks like a solid blood clot. Pulmonary edema also occurs.

Reasons for the appearance

The virus was first recorded and studied in 1921 in eastern Africa. In Russia and the post-Soviet states, the virus began to spread in 2008. The intensive spread of infection around the globe is explained by the following reasons:

  • migration of people to different countries;
  • active build-up of interstate economic ties;
  • the development of pig breeding and the frequent use of meat products and lard for food.

The main reason remains the impossibility of complete destruction of the virus in nature. African plague is transmitted by pigs after contact with already infected individuals. The infectious agent also spreads through feed, water, livestock care equipment and livestock transport.

Symptoms of the disease

The clinical symptoms of the manifestation of plague have a number of similarities with the signs of other diseases. First, pigs have a sharp increase in body temperature, shortness of breath, increased thirst and loss of appetite. As the infection progresses, the condition of the animals worsens. African plague can take many forms, depending on the presence of specific signs.


The lightning current, also called hyperacute, is most common in piglets. Infected pigs show signs such as fever from 41 degrees, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, the formation of bright red spots on the body, vomiting. With a lightning-fast course of plague, cattle die after 1-2 days.


An acute course often manifests itself at the onset of an epizootic. The characteristic first symptoms include:

  • persistent type of fever;
  • body temperature 40-41 degrees;
  • rapidly progressive general weakness.

A few days after infection, animals develop anorexia, conjunctivitis, ataxia. Chills, constipation and vomiting also appear.


The duration of the subacute course of the African plague is 2-3 weeks. This stage is manifested by signs of damage to the respiratory organs or the digestive system.

In the case of lung damage, croupous pneumonia develops, due to which the pigs begin to cough violently, the chest hurts and the breathing process becomes more difficult.

The intestinal form is accompanied by enterocolitis, diarrhea, perverted appetite. Animals begin to lose weight, weaken and find it difficult to move. Infected cattle lie a lot and die in most situations. With a favorable outcome, appetite is gradually restored, the symptoms disappear, and the animals become more active. After recovery, pigs remain carriers of the virus for 10-12 months.


The chronic course lasts up to two months or longer. Infected animals have recurrent diarrhea, a fickle type of fever, changeable appetite, and coughing. Pigs begin to lose weight a lot, their skin wrinkles, the ends of the tail and ears die. The exact signs of African plague infection depend on the complications of the secondary infection. Moreover, in each case, the animals gradually become similar to the scum. The death rate varies between 30-60%.

Diagnostic methods

The formation of pronounced cyanotic spots on the body of pigs is perceived as a prerequisite for comprehensive diagnostics in a veterinary clinic. If you notice signs of African plague, you should immediately seek professional help and isolate suspicious individuals from the rest of the livestock. To make an accurate diagnosis, the veterinarian performs a complex of diagnostic procedures with infected animals.

The specialist makes a conclusion based on the available signs of infection and pathological changes. It is required to find out the cause of the infection and the source from which the virus entered the herd.

It is possible to isolate the virus and its antigen using biological samples and conducting research in laboratory conditions. In the course of diagnostics, modern technologies are used and an analysis is taken for antibodies, the presence of which is considered as the main factor in identifying an infection.

Treatments for African swine fever

Due to the high degree of infectiousness of plague, sick pigs are destroyed. In addition, scientists are still developing a vaccine against the virus. The main difficulty lies in the fact that the virus often mutates, and the disease is often asymptomatic. In such situations, control measures are ineffective.

How does ASF threaten people?

The African plague virus does not pose a danger to humans, affecting only pigs. Since the plague genome cannot withstand heat treatment of more than 70 degrees, animal meat is allowed to be eaten. Despite this, there is a potential danger in the future if the virus continues to mutate.

As a rule, infection of livestock affects only the economic component, since high costs are required to eliminate the focus of infection. The spread of the virus leads to the loss of livestock and the need to restore the number of animals.

Prevention measures

Preventive measures that completely eliminate infection have not yet been created. All applied actions are aimed at suppressing outbreaks of infection, combating the active spread of the virus, and reducing the likelihood of infection in healthy individuals. When a plague focus is detected, all animals in the epicenter are destroyed due to the lack of a vaccine. Faced with an infection of the livestock, they take the following actions:

  • pig carcasses, contaminated feed and livestock care equipment are burned;
  • ash is mixed with lime and buried;
  • the farm and adjacent areas are treated with a disinfectant solution;
  • a quarantine is announced, which ends 6 months after the extreme death of livestock;
  • the pig farm is not used for keeping livestock for a year after the end of quarantine.

To reduce the risk of infection of animals, it is necessary to timely vaccinate against classic plague in a veterinary clinic. This will support the immunity of the livestock and increase protection against the virus. Livestock should be kept in a closed area, avoiding free range. With a frequency of 2-3 months, treatment of animals and pig farms from blood-sucking parasites is required. Noticing signs of the manifestation of plague, you should immediately contact the veterinary service.

Also, precautions are carried out at the state level. There are a number of rules that apply to the import of meat products and livestock, including a ban on import from countries where outbreaks have been observed.

Watch the video: African swine fever What You Need to Know (July 2022).


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