ASF Confirmation in Dominican Republic “Very Concerning”
Ag leaders in top pork producing states are expressing concern over last’s week’s African swine fever confirmation in the Dominican Republic. It’s the first time the disease, which is almost universally fatal in pigs, has been seen in the western hemisphere in almost 4 decades.
Iowa is the state with the most to lose…it has the largest swine population in the US. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says the USDA’s confirmation of African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic is very concerning.
Naig tells IARN that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has numerous interlocking safeguards in place to prevent ASF from entering the U.S.
“A confirmed case of African Swine Fever in the Western Hemisphere is very concerning. We haven’t seen that now for over 40 years in our neighborhood, so to speak. It is very much a real reminder that African Swine Fever and foreign animal diseases are real threats. We’ve got to take them very seriously.”
USDA’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed ASF in samples collected from pigs in the Dominican Republic through an existing cooperative surveillance program.
Pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry to the US as a result of existing classical swine fever restrictions. Customs and Border Protection is increasing inspections.
Naig says a potential spread of African Swine Fever in the United States would be devastating for farmers and the livestock industry.
“Because what it means is it shuts down markets around the world. We’re (Iowa) a big exporter and we rely on those markets. From a profitability standpoint certainly, that would be challenging. And of course, the health and well-being of the livestock and animals as well is very much a concern.”
But Naig reminds folks that ASF cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.
“We want to make sure that we’re communicating to the general public that there’s no human health or food safety concern associated with African Swine Fever. Our message to pork producers is that this is a real threat, take them very seriously, and now is the time to be stepping up and enhancing your biosecurity on your farms.”
USDA says it is committed to assisting the Dominican Republic in dealing with ASF, is offering continued testing support, and will consult with them on additional steps or actions to support response and mitigation measures.
The agency is also offering similar help to Haiti, which borders the Dominican Republic and is at high risk for ASF detections.
North Carolina is the nation’s third largest pork producer behind Iowa and Minnesota. We’ll talk with the ag commissoners from North and South Carolina later this week.