(Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 20, 2023):
The Department of Agriculture would like to inform the public of the re-emerging threat to our pigs and swine industry in the form of African Swine Fever.
African swine fever is a viral disease which affects all pigs. It was confined to Sub-Saharan Africa until 1957 when an outbreak happened in Portugal as a result of airline waste being fed to pigs. It would have continued to spread across the UK and to the Caribbean and Brazil in the 1980s where outbreaks were stamped out after devastating industries. In the 2000s, it appeared again in Europe and in 2018 to China and surrounding Asian countries.
The virus is very resistant, remaining infectious for many months on surfaces and in unprocessed pig meat. It can be inactivated by heating at 70°C for 30mins. Infection results in almost 100% mortality with clinical signs centered around haemorrhage and fever. Infected pigs may have reddened areas on their ears, flanks, legs, underside and also vomiting and/or diarrhoea with bloody discharge. Currently, there is no known cure for the disease.
In July 2021, the disease reappeared in the Western Hemisphere after an absence of almost 40 years, in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The presence of the disease in the Caribbean region brings to the forefront the many longstanding policies and protocols fashioned for the protection of our twin island federation’s animal population and people including strict import requirements, inspections, and risk assessments. The Department has and will continue to sensitize the public about these policies periodically.
We are asking you the general public to partner and cooperate with the Department and by extension the Ministry of Agriculture as we seek to safeguard the borders of the Federation, while ensuring that there is safe and quality meat and meat products for consumption by the public.