Outbreak of African swine fever in wild boar - how do you control it?

A scientific review and expert opinions reveal keys to control an outbreak of ASF in wild boars in Spain

The African swine fever (ASF) is a notifiable disease that causes high mortality rates in pigs and wild boar. Despite being a virus native to Africa, in 2007 the first positive suid was detected in Europe (Georgia). Since then, the virus has affected more than 20 countries in Europe, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Italy and Greece, with more than 50,000 positive wild boars and pigs detected on the continent (close to 90% of the outbreaks occurred in wild boars). 

In Spain, no positive animal was detected in this epidemic. However, it is convenient to be alert due to the importance of the pig sector in our country, as well as the overabundance of wild boar (Sus scrofa).

Wild ungulates, especially wild boar (Sus scrofa), have given rise to situations of overabundance in Europe. Image courtesy of IREC

In this context, researchers from the Research Group in Health and Biotechnology (SaBio) of the Institute for Research in Hunting Resources (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), in collaboration with 10 renowned international experts in the field, have carried out a bibliographical review and provided reflections to synthesize current knowledge on the management and control of African swine fever virus in wild boar.

From the 468 documents reviewed and from a questionnaire made to the experts, the following conclusions were obtained, it can be extracted that the ASF in wild boar has only been stopped in very localized foci (that is, an early detection of the outbreak that affects a limited area of ​​land). On the contrary, it has never been possible to stop an ASF outbreak affecting large epidemic fronts.

The most effective control tools against ASF are: 

  1. the search and destruction of corpses of infected animals, 
  2. the population control in areas close to infected areas, and 
  3. the perimeter fencing when the virus affects small areas.

Experts point out that combining these and other interventions is especially useful.

In situations like Spain, where the virus has not yet arrived, better knowledge of wild boar populations (abundance, health status, etc.), efforts to optimize early detection and logistical preparation in tools and protocols (e.g. search and destruction of corpses) are the best strategies to be prepared for the appearance of an outbreak of African swine fever in wild boar.

Prior to an emergency situation due to the detection of the virus, logistical preparation and better knowledge of wild boar populations is a priority. Image courtesy of IREC.

The scientific review concludes that future experimental work, focused on the management of wild boar populations, as well as the development of a vaccine and the way to deliver it to wild populations are necessary and would complete the available tools.

The scientific publication of this research is available at:

Headline image courtesy of IREC

Institute for Game and Wildlife Research (IREC)

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.