Culling infected pigs and disposing of their carcasses is key to eradicating African Swine Fever, according to a team of researchers from Spain and Scotland who have developed a new mathematical model for preventing the spread of the disease.
African Swine Fever
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly infectious virus that causes a severe and usually fatal disease in domestic pigs and wild boar.
The virus is not a threat to humans however, but the virus can have a profound socioeconomic impact on areas with outbreaks. Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine against the virus.
There are outbreaks in China, Poland, Belgium and the Baltic states at the moment. In China, the virus has wiped out around 40% of the country’s pig population.
The disease is believed to be transmitted by free-ranging wild boar, whose numbers are on the rise across Europe.
Professor Andy White, Heriot-Watt University, explained the thought process behind their new model of controlling the virus, saying: “Our mathematical model was used to understand the different ways that the virus could be transmitted.”
“To match the data, we showed that infection needed to occur in three ways. Through contact between susceptible and infected wild boar, through contact between susceptible wild boar and infected carcasses and via individuals that survive the initial infection but succumb to the disease after several months.”
“A combination of culling and the removal of infected carcasses is the most effective way to eradicate the virus without also eradicating the host population.”
“It is important to act quickly: early implementation of these measures will reduce infection levels while maintaining a higher host population density. In some cases, this could prevent the virus from establishing in a wild boar population,” he revealed.
The model also suggests that it may be easier to control the virus in warmer climates as higher temperatures lead to faster degradation of infected carcases.
To read the full report of the new findings, click here.