Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has warned people again of the risk African swine fever (ASF) poses to the pig sector in Ireland and what those travelling over the Christmas period can do to prevent the introduction of this very serious disease into Ireland.

“Anyone coming back from ASF-affected countries over the Christmas holidays should not bring back pork products such as hams or salami.

“The virus that causes ASF can survive for months in cooked or cured meats which if fed to pigs accidentally or otherwise can cause the disease,” he said.

The minister reminded all those who keep pigs, even if only one or two pigs, “not to feed waste food to pigs. A simple ham sandwich, salami or meat product could bring this disease to our doorstep and it would be devastating.”

Disease spreading

ASF continues to spread across the world. The disease kills nearly all of the pigs it affects and has serious consequences for pig farmers, meat processors and exporters in affected countries.

Some 10 EU member states are now affected by the disease as well as many other non-EU countries including China, which is one of the largest producers of pigmeat in the world.

The minister emphasised that there is no food safety or public health risk but an outbreak of the disease would have an enormous impact on our pig industry. Ireland has almost 1.7m pigs and pigmeat exports were worth €666m in 2018.

What is the impact of the disease?

ASF is a viral disease of pigs and wild boar that is usually fatal. The disease can result in devastating losses for pig farmers and the pig industry. In Poland, Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia alone, the loss to the export industry has been estimated to be in the region of over €900m.

Pigs become infected by sniffing the carcases of dead pigs, by eating feed products that contain the virus, or by coming in contact with clothes or boots that farmers, hunters and others have been wearing while handling infected pigs.

There is no cure or vaccine available for ASF.

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