Dogs can shed the African swine fever virus after consuming infected pork

The African swine fever (ASF) virus is spreading in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa so reports the British government. The disease cannot be transmitted to people i.e. it is not zoonotic. In affected areas it has been confirmed in wild boar as well as on farms, smallholdings and in pet pigs. An American veterinarian states that the importation of dogs carries the risk of introducing ASF into the United States because although they cannot become sick with the disease, they can shed the virus after consuming infected pork. The USDA requires importers of dogs to complete additional security steps if the dogs come from a region where ASF exists.

Wild boar UK
Wild boar UK. Photo: BBC.

And in countries where there is ASF dogs are likely to have eaten infected pork products. These dogs can also carry the virus on their fur and it can be present in their bedding.

In Europe, ASF has been confirmed in almost all of European countries but not the Scandinavian countries and in Asia it is present in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. It has been confirmed in some African countries including recent outbreaks in South Africa. And it is present in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It is not present in the UK, yet, according to the government’s website.

However, there is a warning about the potential spread of ASF in Gloucestershire, UK. As ASF spreads throughout other parts of the world the residents of the Forest of Dean in the UK are being advised to not leave food waste lying around because it can help spread the disease. It is illegal in the UK to feed “catering or domestic food waste to pigs or wild boar”. It is also illegal in the UK to trade in pork or wild boar meat from ASF-affected areas.

Domestic food waste includes dog and cat food, fish, meat that’s been cured, dried, smoked or frozen, raw or partially cooked meat and kitchen waste or scraps such as leftovers.

ASF is highly contagious and it can spread by eating infected meat, being in contact with infected pigs or their body fluids and being in contact with any object contaminated with the virus such as clothing and people. Yes, people can spread the virus on their clothing and on their person.

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