African swine fever reported in Assam: All you need to know about this non-zoonotic disease

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According to reports, a pig tested positive for African swine fever (ASF) in Dibrugarh’s Bhogali Pathar village in Assam. According to ANI, villages within 1 km radius were designated as ‘infected zone’, and all the pigs in those areas were reportedly culled.

Is the virus — that primarily spreads in pigs — a threat to humans?

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Here’s what you need to know.

World Health Organization for Animal Health (WHOH) states that ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, whose mortality rate can reach 100 per cent. According to the world body, ASF is not a danger to human health, but “it has devastating effects on pig populations and the farming economy. There is currently no effective vaccine against ASF”.

“Also, it must be noted that it is not a zoonotic disease (it does not spread from animals to humans),” said Dr Aniket Mule, consultant internal medicine, Wockhardt Hospitals Mira Road.

Symptoms

The symptoms of ASF in pigs are high-grade fever, poor appetite, coughing, breathing problems, diarrhoea, vomiting, and red lesions, said Dr Mule. “Report these symptoms to the veterinarian immediately. The vet will decide on the treatment,” said Dr Mule.

What can humans do?

According to WHOA, the virus is “highly resistant in the environment”. This means that it can survive on clothes, boots, wheels, and other materials. It can also survive in various pork products, such as ham, sausages or bacon. Therefore, human behaviour can play an important role in spreading this pig disease across borders if adequate measures are not taken, it notes.

According to Dr Mule, it is advised to avoid coming in contact with pigs as a precautionary measure. “Awareness plays a vital role when it comes to battling ASF. Allow essential visitors to enter the farm, and insist that they wear clean or disposable clothing and footwear, and wash their hands. Do not purchase pigs during ASF outbreaks. Do not panic, just keep monitoring the pig’s health on a daily basis and report any abnormal changes to the vet,” he said.

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