African swine fever (ASF) is caused by a large and complex virus affecting only domestic pigs and wild boar. The virus can be transmitted either directly, i.e. from animal to animal, or indirectly through contaminated objects, pork and other products. Humans are the most important factors for disease spread over long distances.
After a short incubation period, the acute infection initially progresses with severe but unspecific general signs, i.e. high fever, depression and inappetence. In the final phase, bleeding, disorientation and seizures may occur. The mortality rate is very high (often >90%). In countries where ASP is endemic, milder and chronic infections can occur. In these cases, the animals can survive the disease and recover after a long period of virus persistence. Since the clinical and pathological anatomical signs of ASF are not specific, laboratory diagnosis and differentiation from e.g. classical swine fever (CSF) are essential. In clinically diseased animals, the direct detection of the virus or its genetic information is of primary importance. Furthermore, 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 methods and confirmation methods are available for both direct and indirect detection.
Against the background of the ongoing ASF epidemic in Europe and Asia, there is a permanently high risk for German domestic and wild pigs. Continuous vigilance and early detection measures are required!