African swine fever (ASF) is now established beyond Africa, in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe. In the past, the virus was already detected outside Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s in Europe, the Caribbean and Brazil. The disease was effectively eradicated from outside of Africa with the exception of the Italian island of Sardinia, which remains endemic.
ASF is considered endemic in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, ASF dynamics remain variable from one sub-region to another. Certainly, the upsurge of ASF in many areas is driven by the tremendous growth of the pig sector seen in Africa, with some countries more than doubling their pig populations in less than a decade and the increased movement of people and products.
Since its introduction to the Caucasus in 2007, ASF quickly spread into Armenia and the Russian Federation. More recently, outbreaks have been reported in Ukraine and Belarus. The disease is now believed to be endemic in parts of the Russian Federation and the Caucasus.
The disease travels mainly through the non regulated movements of infected pork and pig products, although the transboundary spread by wild boar has also been documented. The recent developments in Eastern Europe indicate that a further geographic expansion of ASF is likely to occur, requiring increased prevention and vigilance to protect swine populations and the associated business and livelihoods. Any country with a pig production sector is at risk of the entrance of the disease.