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African swine fever unprecedented global threat: a challenge to food security, wildlife management and conservation

Where: Rome, Italy (FAO-HQ)
When: 21-22 September 2020
What: Call for action

African swine fever (ASF) is an unprecedented animal health crisis. The current situation presents a global risk of a significant impact on animal health and welfare, national and international economies, rural development, social and political behavior, national food security and national and international markets. Progressive spread of ASF appears to be inevitable and the disease is likely to expand via domestic and wild pigs across most continents for years to come.

Since the incursion of this dreadful disease in Europe and Asia, FAO and its partners have been in the frontline supporting countries to respond to outbreaks, prevent the spread and build resilience to ensure food security and livelihood of farmers, and for the national sustainable production and trade.

This Call to Action will involve specialists from industry, research, academia, and regional and international partners.


  • Issue a political declaration on the ASF global threat from governments, industry, academia and stakeholders.
  • Review existing and recently developed tools, mechanisms and practices to address ASF.
  • Discuss the progressive improvement pathway for biosecurity in pig production to ensure sustained production and trade.
  • Release a global call for action.


ASF is one of the most devastating diseases affecting pigs and there are no efficient prevention methods. The only means of its control is through the elimination of infected pig populations and strict control of movement of animals and pork products.

Outbreaks of ASF result in massive losses of swine and pork products, making it economically devastating in countries with developed commercial pig farming. However, countries with extensive pig production suffer from epidemics too, with implications for pork prices and availability, livelihoods, and securing investments. Around 43 percent of pigs are kept in extensive production systems with low biosecurity practices. Once introduced, ASF spreads quickly through human activities and quickly becomes endemic in domestic pigs. Extremely challenging is the capacity of the virus to circulate in populations of wild boar, and via ticks. ASF virus is resistant and remains infectious for months in pork products and more than 1000 days in frozen pork. Humans play a major role in short and long distance introduction and spread of the virus.

Almost half of the pig producing countries in Africa reported outbreaks of ASF in 2012, with serious negative impacts on production, affecting livelihoods, food security and nutrition. In 2007, African swine fever virus (ASFV) genotype II was introduced to Georgia, and spread to 17 countries across Europe. In August 2018. ASF emerged in China and has now been introduction to Mongolia, Viet Nam, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, The Republic of Korea, Timor Leste and Indonesia.


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© FAO/Saul Palma

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