National pig health survey underway

A national survey to determine whether South Africa is still free of all major pig diseases that can derail international trade is currently underway and should be completed by next month.

- Advertisement -

These diseases are Classical Swine Fever(CSF), Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS), Aujeszky’s disease, Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE), African Swine Fever (ASF) where applicable, and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). The survey is being co-ordinated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) according to the Deputy Director, Veterinary Services of the Western Region in the Eastern Cape, Dr Jane Pistorius.

“This is the first time we are doing a survey of all the major diseases. We did a national survey for Classical Swine Fever after we had finished the culling, four or so years ago, just to ensure that it was actually under control, but there was not sufficient serum to test all pigs for all the other diseases,” said Pistorius.

“We are hoping to do it every three years in future. We couldn’t do it last year because of the National Foot-and-Mouth survey following the problems in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, but outbreaks allowing, will do it again in 2016. “Pigs of all categories; commercial, semi-commercial and free range, are being bled to ascertain whether we are still free of all the major pig diseases. The survey should be completed next month and the results known some time thereafter,” Pistorius said.

- Advertisement -

“Not all farms are being tested, but a representative sample covering the entire country,” she said, adding that the reason for the survey was that the International Organisation for Animal Health was no longer happy about accepting a country saying they are free of diseases without the surveillance to prove it.

“I think some countries use disease freedom as a trade barrier, and in some cases without justification,” according to Pistorius. “Although these diseases are not harmful to humans it can cause chaos to the pig farming industry should any of these diseases break out in South Africa.”

She said her general advice to pig farmers is to concentrate on biosecurity. “Do not feed un-sterilised swill – it is illegal as well as dangerous – and we suspect that all of our outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth in pigs in KZN, Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome and Classical Swine Fever in the Western and Eastern Cape all came in with galley waste from ships fed as swill. “They should also refrain from introducing pigs from unknown sources and apply general biosecurity measures,” Pistorius said.