News & Media

Joint approach to prevent African swine fever

Released on

Released on:
Tuesday, 30. April 2019 - 13:45

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the WA Pork Producers Association (WAPPA) have been working together and with their national counterparts to inform WA industry and the community about the increasing risk of African swine fever.

WA Chief Veterinary Officer Michelle Rodan said the disease had been spreading across Asia and Europe’s pig populations.

“African swine fever is highly contagious and can cause high death rates in pigs,” Dr Rodan said.

“Australia is free of African swine fever and the department has been working with industry to ensure that Australia and WA remains free, as the disease would decimate our pig markets and would be difficult to eradicate once established.

“In August last year, China experienced its first outbreak of the disease. The disease is also present in eastern Europe and is spreading westwards.

“The most likely way that African swine fever and other devastating exotic diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease could be introduced to Australia is through illegally imported meat and pork products being fed to pigs.

“To reduce this risk, feeding pigs meat or products that contain meat or that have had contact with meat (known as prohibited pig feed or swill feeding) is illegal across Australia.

“Our federal border biosecurity regularly checks incoming international passengers and consignments for illegally imported meat and pork products.

“Testing of recently illegally imported product by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources at the border showed the presence of foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever virus in some of the products, which, if fed to pigs have the potential to infect them.

“Farm stay owners in particular are advised to ensure that tourists are aware that they must only feed the pigs with food that the owner provides and to re-examine their biosecurity plan.”

Dr Rodan said whether people owned a pet pig or a large commercial operation, the message was the same.

“To keep your pigs healthy, make sure they cannot access any meat or meat products, including those contained in kitchen scraps, supermarket, restaurant or bakery waste,” Dr Rodan said.

“Penalties apply to producers and food businesses that provide prohibited pig feed to pigs.

“Pig owners are also reminded to review their biosecurity practices regularly to ensure they can protect their pigs from disease.”

Dr Rodan said the signs of African swine fever included very high death rates in pigs, fever and reddened or dark ears and legs.

“If you have any concerns that your pigs may have African swine fever or any other unusual disease signs, contact the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888 or your nearest DPIRD or private vet,” she said.

WAPPA President Dawson Bradford said WAPPA had been working closely with the department to ensure that WA commercial producers were well informed about mitigating the risks of African swine fever.

“WAPPA has recently participated with members of the WA pig industry in an emergency animal disease exercise coordinated by the department,” Mr Bradford said.

“Attendees at the recent WA Pig Day Out also received an update on African swine fever and prohibited pig feed.

“These events play an important role in raising awareness of the issues with industry and in increasing our preparedness, along with our regular communications with our members.”

For more information about is available about preventing African swine fever and correct feed for pigs.

Members of WA’s pig industry at a workshop
Members of WA’s pig industry at the recent Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development African swine fever workshop. From left: Tony Christensen, Taya Clarke, Steve Martin, Susan Dawson, Jan Cooper of WAPPA, Errol Howard, Vanessa Rushworth of DPIRD, Sue Skirrow of DPIRD, Linton Batt, John Bunn, Dean Romaniello, Emalyn Louden, Megan Trezona.
Members of WA’s pig industry at a workshop
Members of WA’s pig industry and DPIRD at the African swine fever workshop held by DPIRD on 11 April.


Take action to protect your pig herd – do not feed meat or meat products to pigs as this can cause devastating diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever.


Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison, +61 (0)8 9368 3937