African Swine Fever – Do Not Panic!

November 25, 2020

 The African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. In its acute form, the disease generally results in high mortality of pigs. ASF is a different disease to swine flu, which is a respiratory disease of pigs and is caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs. ASF does not affect people and there is no impact on human health. 

Fiji remains free from both ASF and Swine Flu. Currently, the only country in the Pacific to have reported cases of ASF is Papua New Guinea, and the relevant authorities in Fiji are taking all necessary steps to prevent any inadvertent introduction of the disease in Fiji, through strict control of pork products and pig farming supplies into the country. 

The Ministry of Agriculture is closely monitoring the situation and working in consultation with commercial piggery farms in Fiji and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) to prevent importation of contaminants through pork products and farm supplies. 

The Ministry of Agriculture has consistently monitored endemic and exotic animal diseases through its surveillance programs. For pigs, annual surveillance includes pseudorabies, foot and mouth disease, swine flu and most recently, passive surveillance on African swine fever. At this stage, there are no reports from any of our local pig farmers that indicates presence of swine flu or African swine fever. 

A MoU was signed 5-days ago between BAF and PHAMA Plus Program, aimed to strengthen Fiji’s preparedness against possible incursion of ASF in the country. 

Implementation of this program will also involve their close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that awareness and surveillance activities reach down to the farmer level. 

Ministry of Agriculture will continue to conduct annual screening of exotic diseases and monitoring of endemic diseases in the rural and urban communities of Fiji. 

The Ministry will also continue developing the capacity of the Fiji Veterinary Pathology Unit for early detection of animal diseases of economic and public health importance. 

Fiji's main weapon against ASF and other exotic diseases is very stringent monitoring and border control. 

In terms of preparedness, awareness and continuous development of laboratory diagnostic capacity, together with strengthening of the country’s veterinary capability is an ongoing activity for Ministry of Agriculture. 

The Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy urged the public not to panic as Fiji has very stringent control mechanisms and are taking all necessary and proactive steps in stopping the introduction of this disease in Fiji. 

He further assures that the Ministry of Agriculture is working in close collaboration with line agencies and partners to ensure the local livestock industry always remains safe.