African swine fever detected in India for 1st time: All you need to know about

African swine fever detected in India for 1st time: All you need to know about

In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, another disease outbreak is causing deaths of thousands of animals in Assam.

Since February, more than 2,900 pigs have died in the state because of African Swine Fever (ASF). ASF does not affect humans but can be fatal for pigs.

In India, this is the first occasion of an ASF outbreak.

In September 2019, the outbreak of this disease spread very quickly and affected pig populations in China – which is the largest exporter and consumer of pork.

ALSO READ: Why Most of the Pandemics originated from China?

♦What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?

  • ASF is a severe viral disease that affects wild and domestic pigs which causes an acute haemorrhagic fever.
  • The disease has a case fatality rate (CFR) of about 100 percent.
  • It is transmitted by direct contact with an infected or wild pig (alive or dead) or indirect contact through ingestion of contaminated material such as food waste, feed or garbage or through biological vectors such as ticks.
  • The disease causes sudden deaths of pigs. Other symptoms of AFS are high fever, depression, anorexia, loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin, vomiting and diarrhoea among others.
  • The ASF is determined through lab testing and it is distinguished from Classical Swine Fever (CSF), whose signs may be similar to ASF, but is caused by a different virus for which a vaccine exists.
  • Any country with a pig sector is at risk of the spread of the disease.

Note: The ASF causing virus is believed to have entered Europe for the first time in 1957 when it was introduced into Portugal from West Africa.

♦How is ASF different from swine flu?

  • Swine influenza or swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs, which is caused by “type A influenza virus” that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pig populations.
  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the difference is that the swine flu virus infects a high number of pig herds but the disease is not as deadly and causes few deaths. But AFS causes sudden and high number of deaths of pigs.
  • Specific swine influenza vaccines are available for pigs.
  • The swine flu viruses spread in pigs through close contact and through contaminated objects moving between infected and uninfected pigs.
  • Symptoms of swine flu include fever, coughing, discharge from the nose, eyes, depression and eye redness.

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