Farmscape for April 23, 2020
The Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center says efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have reduced the risk of African Swine Fever entering North America through international travel but the risk of exposure through other vectors, such as feed, remains.
The international movement of people and the food products they may bring with them has long been recognised as a potential vector for the transmission of African Swine Fever into North America.
Dr. Paul Sundberg, the Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center, says biosecurity measures such as distancing, staying at home or not traveling are the kinds of things the swine industry has been doing for years in trying to control disease.
Clip-Dr. Paul Sundberg-Swine Health Information Center:
You look at the different pathways of introduction of the virus coming into North America and probably the highest risk is that of international travellers and bringing along affected meat products, affected pork.
While this isn't an issue of food safety and African Swine Fever doesn't infect people, it is possible that if a sandwich with a pork product that would have the virus in it, although it wouldn't affect the person, it very well could affect the pig should it get into contact with that pig.
The decrease in international travel probably decreases that risk.
Other pathways of introduction, for example the potential pathway of introduction of imported feed, imported feed products, most probably remains.
We have to make sure that we do everything we can to mitigate that risk which includes, if possible, sourcing those feed products from areas of the world that don't have African Swine Fever if that can happen.
Dr. Sundberg doubts there will be any data to back it up but the hope is the decreased international travel will reduce our risk of African Swine Fever introduction into North America.
He says, while there are all kinds of economic issues with reduced travel, the decreased contact is probably helping lower the movement of those types of diseases.
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