Classical swine fever (CSF or hog cholera) and African swine fever (ASF)

Page last updated: Monday, 10 September 2018 - 10:04am

Classical swine fever (CSF) and African swine fever (ASF) are both highly contagious viral diseases that only affect pigs. The diseases are similar, although they are caused by different viruses. Both diseases cause high death rates in pigs. Both are exotic to Australia.

In August 2018 the first case of African swine fever was detected in China, which has the world's largest population of pigs. This disease has now spread across a number of continents and poses a major threat to pig producing countries, such as Australia.

What are classical swine fever and African swine fever?

Both classical and African swine fever are viral diseases that cause similar signs in pigs. Classical swine fever is caused by a pestivirus closely related to the virus that causes bovine viral diarrhoea (mucosal disease) in cattle and border disease (hairy shaker disease) in sheep. It is often known as ‘hog cholera’. The African swine fever virus is unrelated to the classical swine fever virus and has a more complex genetic structure.

How classical and African swine fever spread

The most likely way that these diseases would enter Australia is via feeding illegally imported pig meat or other pig products to pigs. The disease then spreads between pigs through contact with faeces, urine and other discharges or through use of contaminated equipment, vehicles and clothing. Some species of ticks can also spread African swine fever.  

To prevent classical swine fever, African swine fever and other serious diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, it is illegal to feed pigs anything that contains meat or meat products, or food that has come into contact with meat or meat products (except approved meatmeals). See the webpage pig swill feeding ban for more information.

Where classical and African swine fever are found

A chronic form of classical swine fever was successfully eradicated from Australia in 1962 after waste from ships was fed to pigs. African swine fever has never occurred in Australia.

Classical swine fever currently affects pigs in Asia, some Caribbean islands, parts of Mexico and much of Central and South America. Infection has been found in wild boar in Eastern Europe.

African swine fever is common in sub-Saharan Africa. Outbreaks of African swine fever are continuing to occur in Eastern Europe and Russia where infection rates in feral pigs are high. In August 2018 the disease was detected in a Romanian farm with over 130,000 pigs and also in China for the first time.

What are the signs of classical swine fever and African swine fever?

The severity of signs varies depending on the strain of virus and the level of immunity of the pig herd. Because Australian pigs have no immunity, signs of these diseases may be more severe if introduced.

Signs include:

  • fever and loss of appetite
  • skin reddening
  • blueness of extremities (including ears)
  • coughing and difficulty breathing
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting
  • abortions
  • sudden increase in deaths.

Report signs of classical or African swine fever immediately to protect your industry

Both Classical and African swine fever are reportable diseases as they can cause high numbers of pig deaths, reduced growth rates and production performance.

If one of these diseases were introduced, it would affect pig welfare as well as disrupting our pig meat exports, severely impacting the pig industry.

If you see any signs of classical or African swine fever:

How can I reduce the risk of classical or African swine fever occurring on my property?

To reduce the risk of classical or African swine fever occurring in your pigs:

  • Do not feed pigs anything that contains or has had contact with meat or meat products. See the webpage swill feeding ban for more information.
  • Ensure visitors or workers who have recently been overseas use sound biosecurity measures, such as wearing clean clothes and disinfected boots.

For your local DPIRD veterinary officer contacts, see the webpage: Livestock Biosecurity program contacts.

Contact information

Sue Skirrow
+61 (0)8 9892 8490