UFU warns of African Swine Fever threat

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union is warning pig producers that African Swine Fever continues to be a very real threat to the industry and farmers must be vigilant to ensure this destructive disease does not reach Northern Ireland.

The comments were made following continued reports of African Swine Fever (ASF) circulating in continental Europe and Asia. At present, the disease continues to run rampant in China, with over 130 outbreaks reported and over 1 million pigs culled, and has spread to Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan.

UFU pork and bacon chairman, Glen Cuddy says pig producers cannot become complacent.

“Whilst the disease may seem far away, with increasing globalisation and ease of transport, African Swine Fever is something all pig producers need to be aware of,” he said.

To date, the UK has never had an outbreak of ASF and Mr Cuddy says he wants it to say that way.

“ASF poses no human health risk but it is a devastating disease for pigs. Currently, the risk of the virus to the UK is considered medium. As such, we must continue to be alert and maintain strict biosecurity on our farms. We all have an important role to play in preventing disease outbreaks,” he said.

The UFU says following strict biosecurity measures on farm will help to reduce the risk of the disease entering the Northern Ireland pig population.

“Only allow essential visitors on to your farm and insist that they wear clean or disposable clothing and footwear; ensure they wash their hands and if possible, shower in. Only allow vehicles and equipment onto the farm if they have been cleaned and disinfected beforehand. Do not allow people who may have been in contact with other pigs onto your farm. Do not allow staff or visitors to bring any pork products onto the farm and do not allow catering waste or household scraps to be fed to pigs. Additionally, producers should only source pigs and semen with known health statuses,” said Mr Cuddy.