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Institute of Diagnostic Virology (IVD)

National Reference Laboratory for African Swine Fever (ASF)

Information of the FLI on the current ASF situation

African swine fever

African swine fever (ASF) is caused by a large and complex virus that affects only domestic and feral pigs. The virus can be transmitted either directly, i.e. from animal to animal, or indirectly via contaminated objects, pork products and other products. Humans are the most important factor in the spread of the disease over long distances.

After a short incubation period, the acute infection initially progresses with severe but unspecific general signs, i.e. high fever, reluctance to move, and inappetence. In the final phase, bleeding, disorientation and seizures may occur. The mortality rate is very high. In countries where ASF is common, milder and more prolonged courses accompanied by secondary infections may also occur in some cases. In these cases, the animals can survive the disease and recover after a long period of viral persistence. Since the clinical and pathological-anatomical signs of ASF are not specific, laboratory diagnosis and differentiation from classical swine fever (CSF) are essential. In clinically diseased animals, the direct detection of the virus or its genetic information is of primary importance. In addition, antibodies against the virus can be detected which to a certain extent allow an assessment of the disease dynamics in a herd or population. Approved procedures and confirmatory methods are available for both direct and indirect detection.

Against the background of the continuous ASP occurrence in Europe, there is a permanently high risk for German domestic and wild pigs. Continuous vigilance and early detection measures are required!