What is Classical Swine Fever?

board of animal health

Reportable Disease of the Month

Classical Swine Fever

What is it?

Classical Swine Fever is a highly contagious viral disease affecting wild (feral) and domestic pigs (swine). It’s also known as hog cholera and was successfully eradicated in the U.S. in the late 1970’s. Veterinarians and producers should always be vigilant for the disease because it can have a significant economic impact, and is still found in several countries, including South and Central America. The USDA operates a Classical Swine Fever Surveillance Program to reduce disease risk and stop any potential introductions as quickly as possible.

How is it transmitted?

The virus can be spread via several avenues including direct contact between infected pigs and healthy pigs. Additionally, infected pigs shed the virus in fluids like nasal discharge, saliva, urine and feces. Shedding of the virus may occur before showing clinical signs. The virus can survive on contaminated equipment and in food/feed, especially uncooked or undercooked garbage or food scraps. The virus has been shown to pass from an infected sow to its piglets.

What are the clinical signs?

Clinical signs of Classical Swine Fever include fever, purple discoloration of the skin, loss of appetite, weakness, diarrhea, and raised red spots on the skin or ears. The severity of the clinical signs can vary based on the strain of the virus infecting the animal. There is no treatment for infected animals.

How is it diagnosed?

Veterinary diagnostic laboratory tests are needed to confirm the disease. An accredited herd veterinarian can draw blood samples from suspect pigs and submit them to an approved lab, like the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Is there a risk to people?

Classical Swine Fever is not known to affect people, and swine have been the only species known to be susceptible.

How can it be prevented?

Strong biosecurity practices are a producer’s first line of defense in keeping diseases out of their livestock. Clean and dirty lines should be observed and proper barn entry protocols followed. Isolate pigs coming into the herd for a period of time, whether introducing new animals, or returning animals to the herd from an exhibition. Lastly, speak to your herd veterinarian about your surveillance program and make sure you have a plan in place when animals show clinical signs of any kind.

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