Strain urges strong biosecurity measures for pig owners

Baton Rouge, La. (July 29, 2021) – Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is reminding all Louisiana hog farmers to practice rigorous biosecurity protocols following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement issued late Wednesday confirming cases of African swine fever (ASF) in the Dominican Republic (DR). African swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs in all age groups.

The announcement further stated, the cases were confirmed as part of a cooperative surveillance program between the U.S. and the DR. The U.S. remains free of ASF – an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health implications – and imports no pork, animal feed or other pork production-related products from the Dominican Republic.

Strain, a veterinarian by profession, said most of Louisiana’s domestic hogs are generally small, backyard operations. “The African swine fever cases in the Dominican Republic should serve as a reminder to all livestock producers that biosecurity protocols are their first line of defense in protecting their animals from disease.”

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has numerous safeguards in place to prevent ASF from entering the United States. Pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry as a result of existing classical swine fever restrictions. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is increasing inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic to ensure travelers do not bring prohibited products to the U.S. CBP also will ensure garbage from the airplanes is properly disposed of to prevent the transmission of ASF.

“Biosecurity and disease surveillance programs are essential in protecting our nation’s food supply,” Strain said. “For instance, the 2018 outbreak of African swine fever in China had devastating impacts on their pork industry, the largest producer and consumer of pork on the planet. The outbreak decreased the global pork supply resulting in higher pork and commodity prices.”

Louisiana’s swine industry contributed $1.43 million to the state’s economy, according to the LSU AgCenter’s 2018 Agricultural Summary.

For biosecurity recommendations, go to https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/biosecurity-for-pigs-outdoor-access-factsheet.pdf

More information about USDA’s efforts may be found at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/swine-disease-information/african-swine-fever/seminar.

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