What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?
African swine fever is a haemorrhagic fever (infectious fever that is sometimes accompanied by heavy bleeding) that can affect both wild and domesticated pigs. It is a notifiable animal disease. The mortality rate is up to 100%. With these case data, African swine fever is currently one of the greatest threats to pig breeding. After infection, the animals develop very severe but unspecific general symptoms.
How does it spread?
In the African countries of origin, it is leather ticks that mainly transmit the ASF virus. The leather tick, also known as the hem tick, is found mainly in the tropics and subtropics - it is not widespread in Central Europe. Transmission takes place differently here: through direct contact with infected animals or their carcasses, the consumption of food waste or pork products or preparations as well as other indirect transmission routes (vehicles, contaminated equipment including hunting equipment, agricultural equipment and machines, clothing). Contact with blood is the most efficient way of transmission. Other domestic and wild animals are not susceptible to ASF.
The ASF can thus be transmitted both directly from pig to pig, or also indirectly via ticks, especially of the genus Onithodoros spec. from the family of the leather ticks. The pathogen can remain contagious in the tick for several years or in dried pig blood for up to 15 weeks.
Fortunately, ASF is not a zoonosis, which means that it cannot be transmitted to humans.
How is the current situation in Germany?
In 2007 we received the first reports of the spread of ASF in Georgia in the Caucasus. Since then, the disease has slowly spread towards Central Europe. In September 2020, the first cases found in wild boars were reported in Brandenburg on the border with Poland. It has also spread to wild populations in eastern Saxony up to now. It remains to be seen whether the ASF will spread to other areas - in any case, the epidemic poses a serious threat to wild and domestic pigs.
What are the countermeasures in Germany?
In Saxony and Brandenburg, the spread is mainly contained by the construction of game protection fences. The two countries joined forces with Poland in order to bring this project to a conclusion as quickly as possible. For this reason, however, the laws on hunting wild boar have also been changed in many federal states, which now partially allows hunting at night and with the use of night vision technology.
Here you get an overview of which regulations apply in which federal states.