Can African swine fever strike in Canada?

by | May 7, 2023 | Uncategorized

When the initial reports of COVID-19 emerged, many of us recognized the severity of the situation and yet it felt far from home. Fast forward three years of a global pandemic with various restrictions and health measures, and we’ve seen how quickly viruses can spread.

A highly contagious animal disease is spreading globally, and it has a much higher mortality rate, but for pigs.

While the disease, called African swine fever (ASF), kills pigs and does not infect humans, it will do major damage to Canada’s pork industry if it arrives here. For pigs, the mortality rate of a moderate case is between 30 and 70 per cent and an acute version is almost 100 per cent fatal for domestic pigs. There hasn’t been an outbreak in Canada so far, but if ASF were found it would be difficult for farmers’ livelihoods and the country’s $24 billion pork industry.

One of the problems Canada could face if there were an outbreak of ASF is with wild pigs. Invasive wild pigs have been spreading from the Prairies since the 1990s and their numbers have been growing exponentially every year. Wild pigs cause damage to ecosystems as well as agriculture, and they can catch ASF too. Wild pigs in Germany have been linked to the spread of ASF in Europe, and if an outbreak were to begin in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, the wide range of these wild pigs would contribute to spreading ASF.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is taking steps to prevent an outbreak, but individuals have a role to play to protect Canada’s pigs, pig farmers and economy. Never bring pork or pork products into Canada from outside the country.

ASF can survive for long periods on contaminated equipment and can easily spread to other farms through contact with wild pigs. Keep your farm bio-secure and you can help save Canada’s bacon. If you’re raising pigs, there are free resources available to learn the best ways to keep your herd protected.

Learn more at inspection.canada.ca/asf-biosecurity

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