South Africa conducts tests to curb African swine fever outbreak

FILE PHOTO: One of the two surviving pigs is pictured in a pigpen at a village in Henan province, China January 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa is conducting extensive testing and investigations to curb the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) after it was detected in the country’s Eastern Cape province, the third known outbreak this year, government said on Friday.

African swine fever is harmless to humans but it is highly contagious and deadly in pigs, causing diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing, haemorrhages on the skin and severe mental distress.

The Agricultural ministry said it was conducting extensive epidemiological investigations and visiting areas to establish the extent of the outbreak.

Two villages have seen positive cases for the virus with more test results awaited.

A separate outbreak was reported on May, 15 in the Free State, after 38 pigs died on a farm.

The disease has killed nearly half of China’s pigs since it was first found there in August 2018. It has also devastated hog herds across Europe, especially in intensive farms where the opportunities for breeding disease are greater.

There is no vaccine for African swine fever or drugs to treat it, so the usual policy is to kill potentially affected pigs en masse.

Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis

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