South Australians are being urged to practice good biosecurity measures to protect the state's valuable pork industry from the threat of African swine fever.
African swine fever is currently spreading through eastern Europe and China where outbreaks are decimating local industry, leading to pork shortages, skyrocketing meat prices and, in a bid to contain the disease, mass animal culls.
More than 25 per cent of Australia's pork comes from modern processing plants in Murray Bridge and Port Wakefield.
In 2017, this represented 1.3 million pigs and more than 103,000 tonnes of pork - much of it sent to supermarkets around Australia.
PIRSA Chief Veterinarian Dr Roger Paskin said African swine fever was not currently present in Australia and public awareness and assistance was needed to keep it out.
"African swine fever is a viral disease of pigs which is highly lethal," Dr Paskin said.
"It is spread by direct contact between pigs, through transport of infected pig products as well as on clothing, vehicles and equipment.
"The disease has been spreading in Europe, the Russian Federation and China.
"Given the volume of movements of people and goods between Australia and China, the Chinese situation is regarded as particularly risky.
"We don't have African swine fever in South Australia and we don't want it.
"The travelling public can help to protect Australia's pork industry by not bringing imported pork products into Australia and by maintaining awareness of the international situation.
"If you've travelled or are travelling in an infected region overseas, it is essential that footwear and clothing is thoroughly cleaned before stepping onto Australian soil.
"Producers with infected stock experience a high degree of disease in their pigs which is characterised by skin blotching, vomiting, diarrhoea and high mortalities.
"If African swine fever is suspected, producers should contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, PIRSA animal health staff, or their veterinarian without delay."
Producers and the public are also reminded that pigs must not be fed or allowed to eat meat or meat products OR anything that has come into contact with meat or meat products. These products are also known as ‘swill'.
These rules apply to all pigs including pet pigs and pigs kept on your property for your own consumption.
Recent examples of overseas African swine fever outbreaks include:
- On 23 August 2018, China, the world's largest pork producing country, reported a fourth outbreak of African swine fever after an initial diagnosis three weeks earlier.
- On 28 August 2018, ASF infection was confirmed in the largest pig operation in Romania, with 138,480 susceptible animals on three properties.
Contact information for PIRSA's animal health staff and further biosecurity information are available at www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity.