What is African Swine Fever?
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a devastating, highly contagious and deadly disease that would have a significant impact on U.S. livestock producers, their communities, and the economy if it is found here. There is no treatment or vaccine currently available for this disease; the only way to stop it is through depopulation of affected or exposed swine herds.
ODA works closely with other federal and state agencies, the swine industry and producers to take the necessary actions to protect our nation's pigs and keep this disease at bay. Together, we are actively preparing to respond should ASF be detected on U.S. soil. Find a Swine Producer Biosecurity Preparedness Meeting near you to learn more and get prepared.
ASF does not infect people but can affect both farm-raised and feral (wild) pigs. It is readily passed from one pig to another by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected pig. The practice of feeding uncooked food waste (that has not been appropriately heat-treated) to pigs can also result in transmission of the virus if the food waste contains contaminated pork products.
ASF does NOT affect public health or food safety - meat is safe for people to eat.
The signs of ASF in swine include high fever, decreased appetite, weakness, red, blotchy skin or skin lesions, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and difficulty breathing. Other signs may include piling, tiredness, and going off feed. Sudden deaths or abortions may be the first sign of infection in a herd. Animals may be infected 3-21 days before showing signs.
ASF is shed in saliva, breath, milk, semen, urine, and manure. It can be spread directly between animals OR spread indirectly on clothing, footwear, vehicles, equipment, and wildlife. It has also been known to be spread by ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies.
Pigs infected with ASF may look similar to other diseases including: classical swine fever (hog cholera), acute porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS), erysipelas, salmonellosis, actinobacillosis, Haemophilus parasuis infection (Glasser’s disease) and pseudorabies. When observing animals showing the clinical signs above, suspect ASF.
Producers or veterinarians should immediately report animals with any of these signs to state or federal animal health officials for appropriate testing and investigation. Timeliness is essential in preventing the spread of ASF.
ASF is considered a Foreign Animal Disease found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, it has spread through China, Mongolia, and Vietnam, as well as within parts of the European Union. It has never been found in the United States.
Since 2018, there have been numerous outbreaks of ASF across Eastern Europe and China. Throughout 2019, China experienced a rapid national outbreak that continued into multiple other countries in southeast Asia. The outbreaks in southeast Asia have continued to spread to date.
On July 28, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Dominican Republic confirmed the presence of ASF. Through an existing cooperative surveillance program, the USDA - Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (Plum Island) discovered the virus in samples from farm and backyard swine. The arrival of ASF in the Dominican Republic means the disease has entered the Americas for the first time in 40 years. At that time, the Dominican Republic dealt with the disease from 1978 to 1980, with 374 outbreaks reported in that period, representing an impact of 192,473 culled pigs. With this report, ASF is now found on five continents.
The Response Plan
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has assembled an ASF Response Team, comprised of veterinarians and experts from our Division of Animal Health. They are currently working collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State University, Ohio Emergency Management Agency and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to create a comprehensive, statewide response plan. The plan will outline a step-by-step process to be implemented should ASF be detected and will address six areas: policy, biosecurity, depopulation, surveillance, and permitting.
The team is also trained and prepared to respond to an ASF outbreak. Each member has a specialized focus in crisis response and specific duties in the case of ASF detection.
Meet the Response Team
DENNIS SUMMERS, DVM, DACVPM
Dr. Dennis Summers is ODA’s Interim State Veterinarian. He first joined ODA in 2014 as a field veterinarian for the Division of Meat Inspection, then was transferred to ODA’s Division of Animal Health in the same capacity in 2015. He was appointed to the position of Assistant State Veterinarian in 2018 and then Interim State Veterinarian in 2021.
Prior to his service at ODA, he was a private practitioner in Vermont, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. His areas of practice focused on large animal medicine and surgery, mainly dairy, equine, and beef, but also some small ruminants and exotics.
Dr. Summers was born and raised in Muskingum County, Ohio. He attended The Ohio State University for his undergraduate studies, majoring in Animal Sciences, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 2001. He completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine studies at OSU, earning his DVM degree in 2006.
In 2019, Dr. Summers successfully passed the board-certification examinations from the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine (ACVPM). This earned him the status of Diplomate from the ACVPM. ACVPM is a specialty discipline in veterinary preventive medicine.
Dr. Summers also serves as a Captain in the United States Army Reserve as an Army Medical Officer. Dr. Summers and his wife, Angela, have three children.
KRISTY SHAW, DVM
Dr. Kristy Shaw is ODA’s Emergency Preparedness and Disease Programs Coordinator within the Division of Animal Health.
This position has been created to help establish this area as a priority for the agriculture community and our federal government partners. Dr. Shaw will concentrate on producing Ohio’s African Swine Fever (ASF) response plan along with education, outreach, and training for local producers. While her focus will be on ASF preparedness, Dr. Shaw will play an important role in coordinating all animal disease programs for the agency.
Dr. Shaw has lifelong experience in the animal industry. She was raised on her family’s beef cattle farm in Hocking County, then went on to receive her Bachelor of Science degree and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Ohio State University. She has experience as a private practice veterinarian and a field veterinarian with ODA’s Division of Meat Inspection. Dr. Shaw has completed FEMA Incident Command Systems Trainings and has been active with the African Swine Fever depopulation committee. Dr. Shaw began her new role in October.
ROBERT D. CAREY, DVM
Dr. Bob Carey joined ODA’s Division of Animal Health in January 2000, where he covers 16 counties in Southwest Ohio. He serves on the permitting subcommittee for African Swine Fever and has assisted with presentations about Foreign Animal Diseases to small swine producers. Prior to ODA, he was in private food animal practice for 28 years. Dr. Carey graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. He has been married for 52 years and has three sons and six grandkids. He has served his community as a local board of education member for 32 years.
ANGELA ROSPERT, DVM
Dr. Angela Rospert is an ODA Field Veterinarian covering Northwest Ohio. She has been with ODA since 2019 and is part of the African Swine Fever disposal subcommittee. Angela completed her undergrad degree in Animal Sciences and her Veterinary Degree at The Ohio State University. Prior to working at ODA, she was in private practice for six years. Angela enjoys working as a field veterinarian for the wide variety of job duties it offers and the opportunity to share her appreciation for agriculture.
Zach Sims has served as an Animal Health Inspector with ODA since 2017. He covers the Southwest part of the state, which spans 10 counties. Zach is part of surveillance for ODA’s African Swine Fever plan. Prior to his work at ODA, he worked for 25 years in a large animal vet practice. Zach and his father have had a stocker backgrounding business (beef cattle) for almost 30 years. He has raised livestock his entire life. Sims was raised on a farm in Highland County and he currently lives just a half mile away on his own farm with his wife and three daughters.
Arlis Young is an ODA Animal Health Inspector covering 15 counties in Southeast Ohio. He has been with the Division of Animal Health for six years. Prior to that, he worked in ODA’s Dangerous Wild Animal program for four years. Aside from working in the livestock markets ensuring regulation compliance, Arlis is also NIMS ICS trained and is currently on the Ohio African Swine Fever response planning depopulation subcommittee. He attended The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 2012 with an Animal Science major and Agribusiness minor.
Kalin Turner has been an Animal Health Inspector at ODA since 2006 where he covers Northwest Ohio. He serves on the ODA African Swine Fever surveillance committee.
T. DAVID FREW, DVM
Dr. T. David Frew has been an ODA Livestock Veterinarian since 1998, where he covers Eastern Ohio and provides animal disease response expertise to ODA’s African Swine Fever permitting committee. Prior to his work at ODA, he practiced as a private practitioner, predominantly with large animals in East Central Ohio. He graduated from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine in 1977.
Heidi Johnson has been an Animal Health Inspector with ODA since 2019, working for three years prior in ODA’s Division of Meat Inspection. Heidi covers Northeast Ohio, including Lake, Ashtabula, Geauga, Portage, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Carroll counties and serves on the biosecurity subcommittee for ODA’s African Swine Fever planning. With an education in veterinary technology and environmental sciences and a former 17-year career in law enforcement, she felt ODA was an excellent opportunity to utilize her combined experience. Heidi enjoys working with livestock, educating those involved with livestock, and assisting with disease intervention and control. Heidi received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Sciences from Oregon State University and also has an Associate of Science Degree in Veterinary Technology. She lives on a farm in Mechanicstown in Carroll County.
Danny Sweitzer has been an Animal Health Inspector for ODA for nearly 25 years, and covers North Central Ohio, including Stark, Summit, Wayne, Ashland, Lorain, Cuyahoga, and Medina counties. He is on the African Swine Fever depopulation committee and is certified by FDA for Ohio egg audits. Danny and his wife have three children and own a small farm with horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs.
ELLEN YOAKAM, DVM
Dr. Ellen Yoakam joined ODA Animal Health as a Field Veterinarian in 2019 after 10 years as a mixed animal veterinarian in private practice. She has a bachelor’s degree from Otterbein College and graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008. Dr. Yoakam serves on the African Swine Fever disposal committee and covers a territory in North Central Ohio where she lives with her husband and three children.
Molly Roberts has been an ODA Animal Health Inspector since 2016. During her tenure, she has helped complete the ODA’s biosecurity portion of the African Swine Fever plan. She has a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in Animal Science. Prior to her role at ODA, she worked in the agricultural industry in production and nutrition work. Molly grew up in Morrow County and currently lives on the family farm with her husband and four children. They raise crops, hay, Boer goats and feed cattle.
Nick Wells has been with the Ohio Department of Agriculture since 2016 as an Animal Health Inspector for Eastern Ohio, covering Belmont, Guernsey, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Holmes, Jefferson and Harrison counties. Nick is also a member of the African Swine Fever biosecurity planning subcommittee. Prior to his work at ODA, he worked for four years at the Columbus Zoo. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, with a focus in Animal Industry. He grew up on a farm in Southeast Ohio where his family raised cattle, horses, and swine.
10-STEP Response Process For Producers
This is a general outline of the steps that producers can expect in an ASF response process. USDA and state officials are available to help producers through this process to ensure business operations resume.
Detection of Virus
- If unusual signs of illness or sudden deaths are noticed in a herd, they should be reported to a veterinarian — private, state or USDA.
- Foreign animal disease diagnosticians will then take samples to determine if the herd is positive for ASF.
- If a positive ASF case is detected, USDA and state personnel are dispatched immediately to the farm.
- A case manager and site manager are assigned and become the producer's main points of contact to answer questions and give guidance on necessary paperwork.
- The operation is placed under quarantine - only authorized workers are allowed to enter and exit, and movement restrictions for swine, swine products, and equipment, go into effect.
- Neighboring swine farms will be contacted and their swine will be tested.
- ODA staff assist the producer to create a herd inventory.
- This lists the number of pigs, their species, age, and other key details. USDA may compensate for pigs that must be destroyed using species-specific calculators.
- Infected herds are depopulated as quickly as possible to get rid of the virus.
- To receive compensation, affected producers and growers must certify that a biosecurity plan was in place prior to an ASF detection.
- Split payments may be provided between the owner and contract grower. An initial indemnity payment is issued early on in the response process.
- Also, a standard amount is issued for virus elimination activities also known as “cleanup work.”
- USDA will help dispose of dead pigs safely.
- Disposal methods may include composting, burial, incineration, rendering, or landfill. The options depend on several variables: the type of farm, the specific conditions, state and local laws, and producer preference.
- The case manager will help producers determine the best option for the farm.
- All traces of the virus must be eliminated from the affected property.
- All barn equipment and affected areas on the property must be cleaned and disinfected.
- This work can be performed by the producer or contractors.
- The case manager should be notified immediately when the cleanup is complete.
- The site must stay empty for a determined amount of time.
- Environmental tests will be taken to confirm the property is virus free.
- The farm will be released from quarantine by state officials after all required testing and waiting periods are complete.
- Once USDA and the state have given approval, the facility can be restocked and production may begin again.
- After restocking, the highest bio-security standards must be implemented to keep the virus from returning.
- USDA APHIS | African Swine Fever (ASF)
- USDA APHIS African Swine Fever Action Week (September 13-17, 2021) - access all recorded webinars
- Secure Pork Supply Plan
- Disease Information - CFSPH (iastate.edu)
- African Swine Fever Poster
- African Swine Fever - Biosecurity Fact Sheet
- African Swine Fever - A Producer's Guide to the Federal Emergency Response
- African Swine Fever - Secure Pork Supply Fact Sheet
- Foot and Mouth Disease - Secure Pork Supply Fact Sheet
- Foreign Animal Disease Response Timeline
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is African Swine Fever (ASF)?
ASF is a contagious, viral hemorrhagic disease that affects domestic pigs and wild boar, leading to high morbidity and mortality. ASF does NOT pose a risk to public health. There is no cure for this disease.
Where is ASF found?
ASF is endemic in Sub-Saharan Africa and is also found in Eastern Europe. It was recently detected in the Dominican Republic (July 2021) and Haiti (September 2021). It has never been found in the United States.
Can humans get ASF?
ASF is not a threat to humans and is not transmissible to humans. You cannot get ASF from being around pigs and you cannot get ASF from eating pork products. ASF is not a food safety issue - your pork is safe to eat.
What are the clinical signs of ASF?
High fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, red blotchy skin lesions, diarrhea and vomiting, coughing. Occasionally the first clinical sign is sudden death.
What do I do if I think my pig has ASF?
Immediately report animals with any of the clinical signs of ASF to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, 614.728.6220, or USDA 614.856.4735. Also, talk with your herd veterinarian.
Why is ASF a concern?
Although humans cannot contract ASF, ASF is a concern for our swine industry. It is a devastating, deadly disease that would have a significant impact on US livestock producers, their communities, and the economy if found here. It would also cripple US pork exports. There is currently no treatment or vaccine available for this disease.
How is ASF spread?
ASF is spread via numerous routes. It can be spread by contact with infected animals’ body fluids, from animal to animal, or from contaminated inanimate objects (clothing, boots, vehicles). It can also be spread by the soft tick Ornithodoros or from feeding pigs uncooked garbage that contains infected pork products.
How can I prevent ASF?
Biosecurity is extremely important, not just in the case of ASF, but in prevention of all diseases. Biosecurity measures may include fences, restricted visitor access to swine operations, quarantining new animals, disinfecting footwear prior to entry, and having dedicated clothing for swine facilities. Also, domestic swine should not have contact with feral swine and garbage feeding is strongly discouraged.
How is ASF treated?
There is currently no treatment or commercially available vaccine for ASF. The only eradication strategy is to depopulate all infected and exposed animals.
I just have backyard/show pigs, do I need to worry about ASF?
Yes- ASF can affect ALL swine, not just those in commercial herds. The secondary impact of this disease will be felt by the entire swine industry. This includes exports, trade, and transport/movement of all pigs. Good biosecurity practices should be implemented no matter the size of the swine operation.
What is the difference between ASF and other swine diseases?
ASF shares its clinical signs with many other diseases. That is why it is important to work with your veterinarian and report anything that looks suspicious immediately. ASF can only be diagnosed with laboratory tests.
What can I do to prepare for an ASF outbreak?
It is important to become knowledgeable about ASF and what to do if you suspect the disease. Having a valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) as well as a secure pork supply plan is vital.
Where can I find more information on ASF?
- Center for Food Security and Public Health Factsheet
- USDA APHIS Website and Factsheet
- US Customs and Border Protection Website
- Secure Pork Supply Factsheet
- Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Website