Preparing our pork industry for African Swine Fever

Monday, 25 November, 2019

Preparing our pork industry for African Swine Fever

Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, has praised the Australian pork industry for its response to the possible incursion of African Swine Fever in Australia. Furner met with the African Swine Fever – Queensland Awareness and Action Forum for the second time, to review the country’s preparedness effort.

Queensland veterinarians, pig owners, pig farm workers, feral pig hunters, industry and the general community have been informed about African Swine Fever, the risks of introduction and how to prevent it as part of the shared approach to preparedness.

“All pig owners, whether they are commercial farmers, hobby farmers, pet owners or those who come into contact with pigs, including feral pigs, must also play their part. Pig owners must be registered as a biosecurity entity, which helps Biosecurity Queensland respond in the event of an emergency animal, pest or disease incident,” Furner said.

The Queensland Government has also scaled up its efforts by increasing education and awareness across potential pathways of introduction such as food outlets that may give leftovers to pig owners, people buying pork products from overseas and feral pig hunters who might see something unusual. The Queensland Government has also enhanced laboratory diagnostic capacity, boosted biosecurity measures and provided over 4000 registered biosecurity entities in Queensland that keep at least one pig with information about prevention and preparedness.

The biggest risk is reportedly from pork or pork products brought into the country illegally from overseas, and fed to or eaten by pigs. Recent detections of African Swine Fever virus fragments in meat confiscated at Australian airports and mail centres highlight the risk of entry through passenger movements and mail.

“I urge everyone to make sure they know what can and can’t be brought into Australia and comply with these requirements. While prevention is the key, we have to be ready in the event this disease does arrive,” Furner said.

It is estimated that by the end of 2019, up to 25% of the world’s pigs may be lost as a result of this disease. No treatment or vaccine is available for the disease, meaning the disease would be very difficult to eradicate if it became established in Australia.

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