African Swine Fever (ASF) has been continuing its global spread, with reports of newly affected areas almost weekly. In the absence of a vaccine, controlling movement of potentially infected pigs and pork products is vital to reducing the spread, but this is causing enormous disruption to trade internationally. A white paper released today by Ausvet provides some background to the use of compartmentalisation to ensure business continuity in the face of this disease, if it were to ever occur in free countries.

According to Ausvet Managing Director, Dr Ben Madin, “Estimates of the impact of African Swine Fever are for a reduction of between 10 and 25% of the global pork production this year. This creates food security concerns for populations where pig meat is a large component of the diet, such as much of East Asia.”

African Swine Fever causes extremely high mortality in affected pig populations, and must be controlled (usually by mandatory biosecurity programmes, movement controls and culling of pigs on affected farms). Although not all pig business would become infected, national and international movement controls mean all producers can still be affected. Disease-free farms would still risk losing access to their export markets, and their livelihoods, if they are not able to demonstrate their disease freedom to the satisfaction of their trading partners.

The global pork industry is investigating and implementing a number of risk mitigation strategies. One tool to mitigate risk and maintain business continuity is the adoption of compartmentalisation. A compartment is a pork producing enterprise that is free of ASF due to biosecurity, even if ASF is present in a country. A compartment should allow companies to produce pork and trade even if ASF is present in a country. They can be established before an outbreak occurs.

If infection spreads to a wild boar or feral pig population, eradication may be infeasible, leaving good biosecurity as the best way of managing the impact of the disease. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recommends the use of biosecurity zones and compartments to help ensure the trade of safe product.

Dr Madin concludes that “While African Swine Fever is not present in many pork producing countries – and hopefully won’t be anytime soon – it is prudent for all businesses to plan to mitigate the impact of this disease. One suitable tool will include excellent biosecurity and may include the implementation of compartments. We hope that this white paper will help producers and industries to better understand what this means, and the process required to set up a compartment.”

To learn more about the major steps and considerations that need to be taken to implement a compartment to protect your business, click here to obtain a copy of the technical white paper: Business continuity in the face of African Swine Fever: Compartmentalisation and company biosecurity.