The North West Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development Department has dispatched a team of veterinarians and animal health technicians to deal with the case of African Swine Fever (ASF) reported in Doornhoek farm near Lichtenburg Town.
The ASF case was confirmed this week through the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Transboundary Veterinary Laboratory, following a rigorous diagnostic sampling conducted by the veterinarian officials within the department.
Department spokesperson Emelda Setlhako said that out of 36 free ranging pigs the affected farmer had - 29 had already died before being reported to the state veterinary office. The rest of the live pigs were put down by the farmer on advice of the state veterinarian.
"Upon further investigation by the Provincial Veterinary Services, the significance of this outbreak is that, it is both 10km outside the World Organization for Epizootic diseases (OIE) recognised African swine fever control zone in the North West and away from Molemane Game Reserve," Setlhako said.
As per the Animal Disease Act 35 of 1984, the farm is currently been placed under quarantine and no animal or animal products are allowed to come in or go out of the farm.
The purpose of the quarantine exercise is to confine the disease at the index farm and prevent it from spreading to neighbouring farms through movement of infected material.
The outbreak has been reported to the World Animal Health Organisation so that the country's trading partners know about the status.
Strategy to prevent further spread
Setlhako said the department has since been in talks with the South African Pig Producers Organization (SAPPO) to come up with a collaborative strategy to prevent the further spread of the disease, and work together on the ground to achieve efficient and effective control.
"To determine the extent of the spread, veterinary authorities within the department are currently hard at work on the ground contacting all neighbouring farms to ensure that the outbreak is dealt with," she said.
Working together with SAPPO, the department will also conduct a comprehensive survey to determine the extent of the spread of the disease around the adjacent farms, including Molemane Game Reserve.
"Post the immediate activities, the same team will undertake to conduct awareness campaigns to the immediate community and afar. Training will prepare the communities for future prevention strategies about ASF," Setlhako explained.
The department has advised farmers to keep strict biosecurity measures in their farms and avoid feeding raw swill to pigs, during this outbreak period.
"Pig owners are further requested to prevent workers from moving from farm to neighbouring farms as their clothes may carry the virus along with them. Any mortalities that are sudden and excessive should be reported to the nearest State Veterinary office."
Swine fever and symptoms
African swine fever is an acute viral disease (ASF) of domestic pigs that shows high fever and high mortality and extensive hemorrhaging of internal organs and the skin of the ears. Death can be as high as 100% within a short space of time and can spread very quickly between contact pigs.
Other clinical signs may include poor appetite, depression, difficulty in breathing and diarrhoea. Pigs may show bleeding from the nose or rectum. Chronically infected pigs show symptoms of weight loss, intermittent fever coughing, skin ulcers and arthritis.
African swine fever is not infective to humans, so there is no risk of it being transmitted to humans.