Jim Long Pork Commentary: why is African swine fever a notifiable disease?

African swine fever continues to dominate conversation in the pig industry, but why is it a notifiable disease?
calendar icon 13 November 2018
clock icon 4 minute read

Over the last while there has been much discussion about African swine fever (ASF). Every meeting we attend or hear about is dominated by ASF talk.

So why is it a notifiable disease? We understand this has been put in place by OIE decades ago. It’s been in Africa for decades (probably how ASF got its name). It was in Spain and Portugal in the 1960’s-1970’s before it was eradicated.

This variation of ASF entered Europe in 1995 in the country of Georgia, and since that time it has spread into Russia, Eastern Europe and now China. No country has been able to eliminate ASF since the Georgian break of 2005.

ASF causes no risk to human health. It is the cause of great financial loss but so is PRRS, PEDv, APP etc.

The greatest financial risk of ASF is the closing of borders to trade. It has been estimated that in Canada, an ASF outbreak would lead to financial losses in the pork sector of up to $30 billion - a huge amount that would lead to an unparalleled amount of bankruptcies even with a massive budget-busting government financial aid.

We expect, knowing US export levels of 26-27% of all production, a $30 billion loss would not be out of the question.

ASF is a huge risk to Canada, USA, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Netherland, for example. Borders closing for trade would be a disaster for all countries.

We have been doing business in Russia for a decade. We have observed ASF effects.

Our Observations

Russia has around 1.8 million sows.

Over the last ten years we estimate 100 thousand sows have been destroyed in Russia due to ASF.

100,000 sows x 20 hogs marketed per year is a loss of production of 2 million hogs (PED loss in North America was 8 million head).

We estimate that PRRS cuts total production by 5% per year in Russia.

Farmer Arithmetic

1.8 million sows x 20 hogs marketed a year = 36 million a year x ten years = 360 million hogs and at 5% mortality from PRRS = 18 million pigs lost to PRRS over the last ten years.

Farmer Arithmetic

Russia- PRRS 18 million head lost, ASF 2 million over last ten years.

Certainly anyone could argue these numbers but we believe no doubt PRRS is worse than ASF for mortality.

So why is ASF a notifiable disease? Borders close and its huge financial damage. There is no human health risk. Is this like assisted suicide?

Is this the time before ASF strikes Canada, the USA, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Netherlands, to push to take ASF off as a reportable disease?


As I write I am on a plane to Germany. It is November 11, 2018

100 years ago today World War 1 ended. It was to be the war to end all wars. Didn’t quite work out.

My Great Grandfather fought on the western front in World War 1. He was wounded, recovered and went back to fight in the trenches. Afterwards I understand he was never the same, became an alcoholic and died long before I was born.

I am thankful I will be in Germany in much better circumstances than 100 years ago.

Always the best to figure out how to get along.

At EuroTier there will be people from all over the world with the common purpose of producing poultry and livestock to feed our world. A noble cause that should be celebrated.

“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power"

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