International African swine fever response demanded

Two international organizations are calling for global action to stop the spread of African swine fever.

In a joint news release, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) called on countries to join forces against the deadly pig disease.

“Today, 51 countries are affected by African swine fever. Amid the difficult situation posed by COVID-19, ASF continues to spread, intensifying the current health and socioeconomic crises,” said Dr Matthew Stone, OIE Deputy Director General for International Standards and Science, in a written statement.

The organizations warn ASF may cause up to 100 percent mortality in pigs, which could have drastic economic consequences. The disease is already affecting countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

They warn there is not currently an effective vaccine and the disease has the potential to have detrimental impacts on farmers.

“In this globalised world, where diseases can spread rapidly across borders, timely sharing of latest scientific information, international collaboration and notification of

ASF are needed to prevent transboundary spread and minimise impact,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo.

The global initiative seeks to, “Improve the capability of countries to control (prevent, respond, eradicate) ASF using OIE International Standards and best practices that are based on the latest science.”

It also calls for the establishment of a global co-operation framework and the facilitation of business continuity.

A potential outbreak of the virus is addressed by a four-pillar strategy in Canada. The framework in place is based on: preparedness and planning, enhanced biosecurity measures, ensuring business continuity in an outbreak event and co-ordinated risk communications.

While North America has so far dodged an encounter with ASF, plans to prevent and, if needed, combat an outbreak on Canadian soil are in place.

Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, representing 35.6 percent of global meat consumption, according to the FAO.

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