November 20, 2019 – Vol. 2 Issue 13

Brought to you by: Pork Checkoff, in collaboration with National Pork Producers Council, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Swine Health Information Center and U.S. Department of Agriculture

Romania and the Philippines Top Recent ASF Losses in Europe/Asia, Respectively, as Global Losses Mount 

As the world continues to see losses due to African swine fever (ASF) swell in 2019, experts from Rabobank estimate that nearly 25% of the world’s pig herd (350 million head) could be gone by year’s end. Most recently, major ASF outbreaks in Romania and the Philippines have added to the costly total.

In a recent global ASF report from the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), major losses were shown in Romania with 20,069 head and in the Philippines with 45,670 head. These losses represent the number of head killed by ASF or culled in infected farms or backyards only and not any depopulation efforts in control zones. This is OIE’s method of calculating global ASF losses moving forward.

Since the first ASF outbreak report in the Philippines, authorities there have deployed significant resources to support efforts to control the spread of the disease in the country. Notably, they have installed the country’s first modern and automated road bath disinfection facility for animal transport carrier vehicles and a biosecurity and quarantine checkpoint to curtail ASF spread. These actions will need to be coupled with hyper vigilance at the country’s ports, which have already intercepted several ASF-positive pork packages from China.

According to a recent report by the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Romania’s plight may be due to the identification of non-compliant holdings and the feeding of kitchen waste to pigs. This alone, however, cannot explain the sudden, significant increase in the number of outbreaks since summer. Favorable weather conditions for potential arthropod vectors (such as ticks) across the region could have accentuated the rapid dissemination of the virus over the summer. Human actions around harvesting and contact with wild boar also could be implicated.

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ASF in Poland Advances Toward Germany

According to a new report from the office of the Polish Chief Veterinary Inspection and published by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, teams made up of foresters, hunters, firefighters and farmers have found 22 wild pigs dead from ASF in western Poland. The carcasses were found only about 50 miles from the border with Germany and its neighboring Brandenburg state (see red pin on map from the World Organization for Animal Health). These cases are in Lubusz province, which is about 186 miles west of the previous positive case locations shown in blue.

Experts are pointing to human travel as the means by which the virus has moved westward so quickly. Prior to this, ASF was present in wild boars in the area around the capital of Warsaw and to the east. A few scattered domestic herd cases also have been circulating in the eastern part of the country.

According to the German Association of Pig Farmers, the news from Poland is worrisome. The group goes on to say, “We urge farmers not to panic and continue to implement consistent biosecurity measures so that Germany continues to be spared from ASF. In particular, we ask wild boar hunters to use the utmost vigilance and caution.”

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Indonesia Likely Next ASF Victim

Although unconfirmed at the time of this newsletter, a report cited by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, indicates that Indonesia may be the next country to be found ASF-positive. In the multi-island nation that is close to other ASF-infected countries, nearly 5,800 pigs were said to have died in 11 regencies/cities in North Sumatra: Deliserdang, Humbang Hasundutan, Dairi, Medan, Karo, Toba Samosir, Serdang Bedagai, North Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli, Central Tapanuli and Samosir. More dead pigs also were found in a river and a lake. FAO officials are coordinating with the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Indonesia, to confirm the cause and explore needs.

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Pork Checkoff Collaborates with DHS on ASF Disinfectant Study

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Pork Board recently entered into a collaborative agreement to assess potential methods to disinfect and decontaminate surfaces from African Swine Fever (ASF) virus. As a proactive measure to address the spread of ASF virus occurring now in other parts of the world, scientists at S&T’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) will evaluate commercial disinfectants and methods to decontaminate porous and non-porous surfaces typically associated with swine production facilities.  

The research will be conducted through a funded cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between S&T PIADC and the National Pork Board, a program funded by pork producers and sponsored by the USDA. This is part of the work being done by an interagency ASF Task Force to develop vaccines, improve diagnostic tests and disinfectant testing for this emerging disease threat. 

The funded CRADA with the National Pork Board allows DHS to leverage an important cooperative partnership to execute its mission effectively. Today, ASF poses the greatest threat to America’s swine industry, which is the largest pork exporter in the world with a market valued at $24 billion yearly. 

“America’s pig farmers continue to invest in seeking ways to keep ASF and other foreign animal diseases out of this country by partnering with groups such as those at Plum Island,” said Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board. “We’re committed to doing what’s needed to keep our nation’s pig herd protected and our industry safe from this global threat.” 

Visit here to learn more about this collaboration.  

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Study: Pork in Foreign Luggage Poses High ASF Risk

With African swine fever (ASF) now in more than 50 countries, the United States remains keenly focused on preventing it from entering the country. The latest efforts to keep it at bay includes a new study that looked at the possibility of ASF virus entering via infected pork smuggled in airline passenger luggage.

“We knew that the risk of ASF virus entering the U.S. is certainly a concern from people traveling or in feed-stuffs from infected countries,” said Dave Pyburn, DVM, senior vice president of science and technology at the Pork Checkoff. “This study specifically looked at the risks of ASF being introduced through infected pork in travelers’ luggage.”

The study, funded by the Pork Checkoff and the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), found that the risk of ASF entering the country is much higher (183.33%) than two years ago when the disease first spread into Western Europe and Asia.

The study results also showed that five U.S. airports (see graphic), and especially two of them, pose the most risk for incoming travelers with ASF.
To read more about this study go here. To read the peer-reviewed study, go here.

No Extra Screening? Tell SHIC

Returning to the United States from abroad after being on a farm or near animals? At the U.S. airport that you fly into, make sure that you declare that you have been on a farm or near animals. If you are not directed to secondary screening , demand this action be taken.

Also, send an email to Paul Sundberg, DVM, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center, at Let him know about the situation so he can relay the information to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials per their request. In your email, please include the following information: 

  • Your name (optional) – specify if you do not want your name to be shared) 
  • Country or countries visited 
  • Date and time of return 
  • Airline and flight number 
  • Arrival airport 
  • Declaration method – written form, kiosk or verbal 
  • Customs and Border Patrol employee name, if possible (displayed on right side of shirt) 
  • Other pertinent details
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Imported Dogs Seen as Potential FAD Concern 

According to a recent article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, state veterinarians along with those in the US pork industry have concerns that imported dogs and their carriers could be a potential pathway for introducing foreign animal diseases into the country. Most notably, they point to the ASF virus that’s been responsible for killing millions of pigs worldwide. 

Although USDA officials think the virus is unlikely to spread from imported dogs to pigs, other experts such as Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the National Pork Board, warns that the ASF virus is hardy. While dogs cannot be infected with ASF themselves, the virus could survive in bedding or on crates brought into the country and end up infecting US pigs.  

“Unlike other viruses that can desiccate and become nonviable relatively easily, African swine fever is, unfortunately, not one of those,” Becton said.

As an example, Becton recounts how six beagles from China arrived unannounced this past summer in a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina, along with shipping crates, blankets, water and food bowls. The dogs had been destined for a dog meat festival before a rescue group flew them from Beijing to Atlanta, then drove them hours northeast.

Douglas Meckes, state veterinarian for North Carolina, said his office might not have learned about the imports had the organizers not told news outlets. He ordered quarantines that held two of the dogs at a veterinary clinic and the rest at their foster homes, and state authorities gave the veterinary clinic protective suits for cleaning and disinfecting the clinic.

Dogs at many meat markets overseas can be exposed to blood, feces and insanitary handling where a virus such as ASF may be lurking. “There's multiple species and very little regulation or oversight,” Becton said.

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More FAD Workshops Planned in Iowa

If you have not had the opportunity to attend a previous foreign animal disease (FAD) workshop in Iowa, you will have six more opportunities in December. Hosted by the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at Iowa State University in collaboration with the Iowa Pork Producers Association IPPA), these workshops will help producers understand what the state and federal response might include in the event of an FAD outbreak and how they can individually prepare for such an outbreak on their farm.

“We want to help producers prioritize actions steps and set goals to take on their farm today,” said IPIC Extension program specialist Amanda Chipman. “These workshops will build on experiences from previous workshops and insights we gained while observing the African swine fever (ASF) functional exercises in September 2019.”

Following the workshop, attendees can expect to have better knowledge of FAD preparedness and will leave with practical strategies that can be used immediately to improve the protection of their herd from endemic diseases already in the U.S. swine herd. All are invited regardless of whether or not they attended one of the first series workshops earlier this year.

Workshops are scheduled across the state from 1 to 4 p.m. each day with an optional help session from 4 to 5 p.m. All sessions are available at no charge thanks to IPPA support. Please register for your desired workshop location using this online form.

For more information about the workshops and to sign up for updates on future workshops, the Secure Pork Supply plan and ASF, see the IPIC website at If you have questions or would like to schedule a workshop, or individual or group plan assistance, email or contact your ISU extension swine specialist.

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Indiana to Host ASF Preparedness Meeting

The Indiana Board of Animal Health is hosting a follow-up meeting to the September multi-state African swine fever preparedness exercise to discuss lessons learned and next steps. Updates on Indiana’s other ASF preparedness activities such as the Securing Indiana’s Pork Supply Program will also be presented.

The meeting will be on Dec. 16, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST at the Indiana Soybean Alliance Office, 8425 Keystone Crossing #200, Indianapolis, IN 46240. For those outside of Indiana or who cannot join in person, simply join online via GoToMeeting by using You can also dial in by phone at (872) 240-3412 with access code: 185-288-509. If you are new to GoToMeeting, get the app now and be ready before the meeting starts by going to:

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Herd Depopulation and Carcass Disposal Info

To be better prepared in the event of a foreign animal disease event, several on-farm methods of depopulation and disposal were covered during the recent African swine fever and Carcass Disposal webinar conducted by the Pork Checkoff. The webinar featured information from USDA engineer Lori Miller. Many of USDA’s relevant resources also can be found on its carcass disposal management dashboard resource for producers. It lists many types of disposal methods, along with pros and cons of each. There also is a worksheet that farmers can use to determine what might work best in each scenario.

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ASF Present in Over 50 Countries

When it comes to African swine fever (ASF), today it seems it’s almost easier to say where the virus isn’t present. According to the World Health Organization (OIE), more than 40 countries have reported the deadly virus either in wild or domestic pigs during the past five years (It’s over 50 countries without this caveat). Of course, not all of these countries are significant pork producers, but the diversity of ASF’s geographic spread shows how easily the virus can spread.
Burkina Faso
Cabo Verde
Central African Republic
Cote D'Ivoire
Czech Republic
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Korea

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African Swine Fever Risk Calls for Action

The global African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in China is wreaking havoc on the international pork industry. Fortunately, ASF is not in the United States at this time, but the possibility of it or another foreign animal disease (FAD), means that American pig farmers must take the necessary steps to protect their farms and the domestic pork industry.

As U.S. pig farmers know, a robust export market is critical to the ongoing success of the nation’s pork industry. In 2018, U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports totaled 5.37 billion pounds valued at $6.392 billion, according to USDA. If an FAD such as ASF entered the United States, it would likely eliminate exports for an unknown amount of time. Taking steps to prevent this from happening requires immediate actions, such as those outlined in the resources noted in this newsletter and found at

On-Farm Biosecurity Resources
To help guard against FADs, consider using these checklists and fact sheets for pigs raised indoors or outdoors. These resources will help you develop an enhanced biosecurity plan that is unique to your own farm’s needs.

Know the Signs…
Anyone who works with pigs should be familiar with the signs of ASF in animals:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite and weakness
  • Red, blotchy skin or skin lesions
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing

To help ensure none of these signs are overlooked, be sure to get free hard copies of FAD Barn Posters and fact sheets in English or Spanish from the Pork Checkoff by going to the Pork Store via

Know Who to Call…
Immediately report animals with any of ASF signs to your herd veterinarian or to your state or federal animal health officials. You also may call USDA’s toll-free number at (866) 536-7593 for appropriate testing and investigation. Timeliness is essential to preventing the spread of ASF, so don’t delay if you see any of these signs.

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Key Facts to Know about African Swine Fever

Pork is safe to eat. African swine fever is not in the United States. U.S. pigs are not affected by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in other countries, to date.

  • ASF does not affect humans and therefore is not a public health threat according to USDA. 
  • ASF is a disease of pigs only and therefore is not a threat to non-swine pets or other livestock.
  • As usual, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has measures in place to prevent sick animals from entering the food supply, including if ASF is detected in the U.S.
  • As with any food product, you should always follow safe handling and cooking instructions to protect your family's health.
African swine fever is a viral disease impacting only pigs, not people --- so it is not a public health threat nor a food-safety concern.
  • ASF cannot be transmitted to humans through contact with pigs or pork.
  • ASF only affects members of the pig family.
  • ASF can be transmitted to pigs through feeding of food waste containing contaminated pork products. The Swine Health Protection Act regulates the feeding of food waste containing meat to pigs to ensure that it is safe.
  • ASF is transmitted to pigs through direct contact with infected pigs, their waste, blood, contaminated clothing, feed, equipment and vehicles, and in some cases, some tick species.
The USDA does not allow importation of pigs or fresh pork products into the U.S. from areas or regions of the world that are reported positive for the ASF virus.
  • Restrictions are based on USDA’s recognition of the animal health status of the region and are enforced by the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service.
  • International travelers should be diligent in following all rules and regulations related to the US Customs and Border Patrol reentry declarations.
Why is ASF not a human health concern?
  • African swine fever is a viral disease affecting only pigs, not people; so it is not a public health threat nor a food safety concern.
  • According to Dan Rock, Professor of Pathobiology, University of Illinois, most viruses demonstrate some degree of host restriction; they replicate in one cell type or host and not in another. While there are exceptions, this is the general rule not the exception. In the case of ASF virus, there is no evidence supporting either subclinical or clinical infection of humans. 
  • The host restriction in ASF virus is likely due to the absence of susceptible and permissive cells needed for viral replication. It could also be related to the inability of the virus to overcome intrinsic and innate host responses generated following ASF virus exposure.
Can countries with ASF export pork?
  • The World Organization for Animal health (OIE), of which the United States is a member, considers African swine fever to be a trade-limiting foreign animal disease of pigs. 
  • Countries with confirmed cases are subject to international trade restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of introduction of the disease through trade.
  • The United States has never had a case of African swine fever and there are strict animal health and import requirements enforced by USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine and DHS Customs and Border Protection to prevent entry into the United States. There is a national response strategy for African swine fever that has been developed by USDA Veterinary Services.
What is the U.S. pork industry doing in response to ASF and preparedness to protect the U.S. swine herd?
  • In response to the current situation in China and other countries, the National Pork Board has been working closely with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center to monitor the situation and collaborate with the USDA.
  • The organizations are working together to gather intelligence, engage subject matter experts, assess risk and determine appropriate actions moving forward to address the issue. As this situation continues to develop, we will provide future updates.
For a full list of producer resources and tools about ASF, please click on or call the Pork Checkoff at 1-800-456-7675. Detailed consumer information on ASF is available at

Additional Information
African swine fever is a highly infectious viral disease impacting only pigs, not people, so it is not a public health threat nor a food safety concern. The World Organization for Animal health (OIE), of which the United States is a member, considers African swine fever to be a trade-limiting foreign animal disease of swine. Countries with confirmed cases are subject to international trade restrictions aimed at reducing the risk of introduction of the disease through trade. The United States has never had a case of African swine fever. There are strict animal health and import requirements enforced by USDA APHIS Veterinary Services, USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine and Customs and Border Protection to prevent entry into the United States. There is a national response plan for African swine fever that has been developed by USDA Veterinary Services.

In response to the current situation in China and other countries, the National Pork Board has been working closely with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Swine Health Information Center to monitor the situation and to collaborate with the USDA.

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FAD Resources from Pork Checkoff and Other Industry Partners

National Pork Board FAD Resources Holding Time Calculations for Feed Ingredients
FAD Preparation Checklist for Producers Hosting International Visitors on Your Farm
Traveling Overseas Biosecurity USDA Disease Response Strategy: ASF
African Swine Fever Fact Sheet U.S. Pork Industry Guide to the Secure Pork Supply Plan
Secure Pork Supply Website FAD Resource Packet w/Posters
Webinar: FAD and Secure Pork Supply Plan, What You Need to Know SHIC Global Disease Monitoring Reports
Iowa Pork Industry Center ASF Resources What Swine Growers Need to Know about Garbage Feeding

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For more information:


Please send questions and comments about this newsletter to:

Mike King

Director of Science Communications
National Pork Board 
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Copyright © 2019 National Pork Board, All rights reserved.

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