Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

World

African Swine Fever is now on six continents and on the doorstep of the U.S.

The story of African swine fever actually does begin in Africa, almost exactly 100 years ago. Since then, it has spread around te globe. Source - Smaack (CC SA 4.0)
The story of African swine fever actually does begin in Africa, almost exactly 100 years ago. Since then, it has spread around te globe. Source - Smaack (CC SA 4.0)

A pandemic is silently sweeping across the globe – and it is not Covid-19. Since African Swine Fever (ASF) was confirmed in the Americas more than two months ago, the deadly pig disease is now on six continents and on the doorstep of the U.S.

The double-stranded virus that is the causative agent of ASF causes a hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs; with some isolates causing the death of animals as quickly as a week after infection.

The virus does not cause disease in humans, and to date, there is no vaccine commercially available. And this has caused animal health authorities in the U.S. to be on high alert.

The first outbreak was retrospectively recognized as having occurred in 1907 after ASF was first described in 1921 in Kenya. Since that time, the virus has spread around the globe.

In 2018 the virus spread to Asia, affecting more than 10 percent of the total pig population in several countries, leading to severe economic losses in the pig sector. By 2019, according to the FAO, close to 5 million pigs in six Asian countries had died or been culled in an effort the stop the spread of the disease.

“Stay vigilant for African Swine Fever – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kristopher Worcester, Kisling Non-Commissioned Officer Academy director of resources, takes a blood sample from a wild boar he killed outside Kaiserslautern, Germany, Oct. 2, 2018. Source – Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bass, U.S. Air Force, Public Domain

African Swine Fever is knocking on our door

To that end, the US Department of Agriculture has pledged an emergency appropriation of $500 million to ramp up surveillance and keep the disease from crossing borders, according to Wired.

In 2020, the value of U.S. pork & pork product exports to the world reached a record $7.7 billion, up 11 percent from the prior year. The top three markets, accounting for 66 percent of exports, were China at $2.3 billion, Japan at $1.6 billion, and Mexico at $1.2 billion.

It is easy to see why U.S. farmers are in a panic. Latin America is on alert, and pork producers in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are haunted by memories of the US-funded eradication of their entire pork population when ASF last hit more than 40 years ago.

This time, the disease has been found in several locations in the Dominican Republic and was identified in Haiti in September. If it comes to the US, its arrival and the measures needed to control it would threaten feed sales, equipment leases, truck transport, slaughterhouses, and the economy of small towns.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

You may also like:

Business

View of nitrogen fertilizer being applied to growing corn (maize) in a contoured, no-tilled field in Hardin County, Iowa. Source - USDA/Photo no. NRCSIA99241...

Life

Hanukkah is an eight-day “festival of lights” that takes place during the winter, oftentimes at or around the same time as Christmas.

World

The Democratic Republic of Congo will allow armed forces from neighbouring Uganda to enter its territory to chase rebels.

World

Omicron, first discovered in southern Africa, represents a fresh challenge to global efforts to battle the pandemic.