Pork is safe to eat despite African swine fever outbreak, says health department

The "Pork" is presented at the Disgusting Food Museum on November 7, 2018 in Malmo, Sweden. - The exhibit has 80 of the world’s most disgusting foods where adventurous visitors get the opportunity to smell and taste some of these notorious foods. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP)

The department of agriculture would like the public to know that ASF does not affect humans.

The outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in four different provinces has prompted the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD) to embark on roadshows and awareness campaigns to meet with farmers and affected communities.

According to a statement issued by the department on Monday, the roadshows will kick off in Bloemfontein in the Free State on Wednesday, where the department’s Food Import and Export Standards Directorate for Animal Health Promotion, together with the provincial departments of agriculture, will spend two days in the area.

“Following the outbreaks of ASF reported in the North West, Gauteng, Free State, and Mpumalanga provinces, the DALRRD will embark on roadshows and awareness campaigns to meet with farmers/pork producers, affected communities and the public at large,” said the department.

ASF outbreaks were identified in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Free State and Amanzimtoti in May following the outbreak reported in the North West at the beginning of April 2019.

“In collaboration with the Pork Producers Association, [we] will conduct ASF awareness campaigns to educate farmers/pork producers on the prevention, transmission and spread of the disease. These will encompass information on the risk of feeding pigs kitchen waste/garbage, risk of buying from unknown sources, public health risks, symptoms, prevention and control of African swine fever,” added the department.

The awareness campaign will then move to Rustenburg in the North West on July 15 and conclude in Zeerust on July 18.

Vrede in the Free State will get its turn on July 22 and Harrismith and Warden the following day.

Even though any meat and products from affected pigs can be a source of infection to other pigs, the department of agriculture wants the public to know that ASF does not affect humans.

“Farmers should, therefore, ensure that if any swill is fed to pigs, the swill must be pre-cooked for at least an hour. This will ensure the inactivation of the ASF virus, as well as other diseases of concern,” advised the department.

The Government News Agency reports that there is also no vaccine for ASF and no treatment for affected pigs.

The disease kills almost all infected pigs and can be transmitted by contact with infected wild or domestic pigs, ingestion of contaminated material (e.g., food waste, feed, or garbage) and contaminated fomites (people, vehicles, equipment, shoes).

The disease can also be transmitted by biological vectors (soft ticks).

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(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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