Veterinarians: Providing guidance on biosecurity and identifying African swine fever
Veterinarians have an important role to play in:
- detecting African swine fever (ASF) early
- supporting and educating their clients to reduce the impact of the disease if it is found in Canada.
ASF is deadly for pigs and there are currently no effective treatments or vaccines. The disease continues to spread worldwide, threatening pig health and welfare. ASF can't be transmitted to humans, but a detection in Canada would have devastating impacts on Canada's swine population.
Early detection is critical. If you suspect ASF, immediately contact one of CFIA's Animal Health Offices.
For more information, read our African swine fever fact sheet.
Recommendations for veterinarians
Recognize the signs of ASF
The clinical signs of ASF range from mild to severe and may suddenly appear or cause chronic illness. There are no signs of ASF that are unique.
ASF virus can cause the following symptoms:
- high fever
- loss of appetite
- inability to stand
- reddening of the skin
- internal bleeding
- vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
- abortions in pregnant sows
- death may occur suddenly or following a period of illness
Take part in ASF surveillance
The disease looks similar to classical swine fever and other endemic diseases. Risk-based early detection at approved laboratories is a surveillance tool that has been implemented as part of Canada's enhanced ASF surveillance through CanSpotASF. It was developed by federal and provincial governments, industry and veterinarians.
Through increased presence and sampling on small-scale swine farms, veterinarians can help detect ASF and prepare for a potential outbreak. If you are a veterinary practitioner and would like more information contact the Canadian Animal Health Surveillance System (CAHSS) Swine Network at email@example.com
What to do if you suspect ASF
ASF is a reportable disease under the Reportable Diseases Regulations. Laboratory tests performed in a CFIA or another approved lab are necessary to confirm the disease. You must immediately report suspected cases to one of CFIA's Animal Health Offices. It is important to:
- Collect key epidemiological information about the farm and animals
- Arrange for confirmatory laboratory tests performed by the CFIA or another approved lab
- Quarantine all animals, feed and equipment until the cause of illness is known
- Avoid visiting other farms until you have consulted with a CFIA official at the Animal Health Office
Encourage and follow good biosecurity practices
ASF can have a devastating effect on Canada's swine herd and the livelihood of farmers. On-farm standards and biosecurity practices are key to mitigate risk and to prevent diseases from developing and spreading.
ASF can spread (directly and indirectly) between sick and healthy pigs (domestic and wild), as well as from contaminated farm equipment, feed and clothing. Veterinarians moving between farms can also inadvertently spread infection if they were recently in an area that was infected with ASF.
Resources from third parties
- World Organisation for Animal Health awareness tools:
- Disease images of African swine fever
- Animal Health Canada – ASF Resources
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Association: African swine fever
- Canadian Veterinary Medical Association: Three-Part Series for Veterinarians on ASF presented by the CFIA
- National Swine Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard
- Canadian Pork Council: Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network
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