African swine fever virus is hard to kill. It can survive in feces and urine for days, travel on various surfaces and survive in pork even if the meat is cured or cooked to temperatures below 70 C.
It has been reported in at least seven European Union countries at various times, and wild pigs are one of its reservoirs in Europe.
That’s a concern for Canada should ASF ever make its way here, said swine veterinarian Dr. Egan Brockhoff.
“The host reservoir for this virus throughout Eastern Europe is wild pigs, and Canada has a very significant wild pig population. Once this virus establishes itself in a wild pig population, it is very difficult to get that virus out of the country.”
ASF can be carried via infected meat, and should someone bring such meat to Canada and it was fed to pigs or thrown out, the virus could spread pig to pig or food scrap to wild pig.
Several European countries have attempted to control wild pig numbers within their borders, with limited success reported.
Canada does not have African swine fever in either its domestic or wild pigs, but it does have its own issues with feral pigs.
Saskatchewan researcher Ryan Moore told The Western Producer in July that they are established in most watersheds in the southern part of the province.
Wild boars are also a problem in parts of central Alberta where a $50 bounty program was cancelled last year because of its failure to markedly reduce numbers.
“Producers need to be aware of the risk that wild pigs pose,” said Brockhoff.
“Wild pigs go largely unnoticed but we have significant populations of them.”