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Outbreak of African swine fever in Zambia (April 2004)

Issued on May 2004 through the EMPRES mailing list.

An outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious viral disease of domestic pigs, was detected in April 2004 in Livingstone District, Southern Province of Zambia. It is the first time the disease has been reported in this district. The widespread occurrence of the disease in areas that are ASF free is of great concern and has very serious implications for the fledgling commercial pork producing industry in Zambia. It also poses a serious threat to the southern African Region should it not be brought under control urgently.

Background information

In 2001, the disease affected 4 districts (Mazabuka, Monze, Namwala & Choma) in the Southern Province. Livingstone, Kazungula, Kalomo, Sinazongwe, Gwembe and Siavonga District remained free of the disease. Several interventions and control measures were implemented to control the epidemic by the Government of Zambia and FAO under the project (TCP/ZAM/0169-Phase II, TCP/ZAM/3002E). Amongst the principal outputs of the FAO project was the strengthening of the surveillance and capacity building of the Veterinary Services in responding to epidemics of ASF. In October 2002, no clinical cases of ASF were encountered in the affected districts.


Pig production in Zambia

Pig production is a major agricultural activity in smallholder operations especially in the Southern Province. It is a growing source of animal protein and an important income generating activity in peri-urban areas at household level.


Area affected

ASF was detected on 19th April 2004 in a backyard pen with 21 pigs. The owner first noticed 3 pigs showing anorexia and general weakness on 16th April 2004 and on 17th April 2004 two more pigs showed clinical signs. The pigs were treated with penicillin by the owner, but two died despite the treatment on 19th April 2004 prompting the Senior Veterinary Assistant (SVA) to report the case to the District Veterinary Officer (DVO) who suspected the clinical signs to be highly suggestive of ASF.

During further investigations on 19th April 2004, it was reported that about 280 pigs died at a commercial farm - Basson farm about 7km South East of Livingstone town around early March and no report had been made to the DVO. As shown on the map, the outbreak of ASF in Zambia is located at the border area of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Road networks within the area (especially Zimbabwe), could serve as conduits for the movement of pig and pig products thereby enhancing disease spread.

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[ASF in Zambia, source: FAO/EMPRES)]

Measures undertaken by the authorities within the country

1. The DVO and staff at Livingstone Office destroyed the surviving pigs in the affected pens and disinfected with appropriate disinfectants.

2. Disease search commenced in all the camps and on 20th April 2004, it was further observed that pigs were dying on a farm 5 km away from Livingstone town and at Mulanfu village under Simango Veterinary Camp.

3. Samples (kidney, lymph nodes, whole blood and serum) were collected from a sacrificed pig and transported on ice to the Central Veterinary Research Institute (CVRI) at Balmoral, Lusaka. The samples were received at CVRI on 21st April 2004 for onward transmission to Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, Republic of South Africa for virus isolation and characterization.

4. The Chief Veterinary Officer - Dr D. Minyoi and project consultant Dr J. Belemu arrived in Livingstone to evaluate actions taken and to suggest guidelines to control the epidemic.

5. Movement ban was instituted in 4 towns, Kazungula, Livingstone, Kalomo and Choma.

6. ASF disease search is still continuing and pigs with clinical evidence of disease have been destroyed.


EMPRES actions and follow up

A Technical Cooperation Programme project (TCP/ZAM/0169(E) now TCP/ZAM/3002(E)-Emergency control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (CBPP & ASF) has been operational since February 2002, with extension to August 2004.

The aim of the project is to support animal disease (CBPP and ASF) control operations already put in place by the government of Zambia. An FAO International consultant provided technical advice and conducted a regional workshop on ASF disease containment and epidemiological analysis during his mission to Zambia in 2002.

ASF diagnostic materials were provided to the CVRI-Balmoral and training of staff at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, South Africa was facilitated by the FAO TCP project. Disease recognition workshops were conducted for staff in the Southern province in 2002.


Sources of information

Emergency Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases in Zambia FAO Technical Cooperation Programme Project (TCP/ZAM/0169) Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Dept of Animal Production and Health, Zambia

Fernando Boinas, FAO- International Consultant, mission report that took place in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania from the period 18/3/2002 to 17/4/2002

FAO Animal Health Officer, Back to office mission reports (Technical Services Mission Report) under the TCP/ZAM/0169 under TCP/ZAM/0169; 17 - 27 Nov 2002 and 21 - 28 Jun 2003

SADC (Southern African development community) web site


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