Trading Standards Institute Advice
Classical swine fever
In the guide
- What is the possible impact of the disease?
- Clinical signs
- What happens if disease is confirmed?
- Can people catch the disease?
- Could it affect the food I eat?
- What can be done to reduce the risks?
- Further information
Learn about classical swine fever and how the risk of an outbreak can be reduced
This guidance is for England
Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. In its acute form the disease generally results in high morbidity and mortality.
It causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body. This results in widespread haemorrhages, which may be seen in live pigs as blotching and discolouration of the skin, particularly of the extremities. The disease is caused by a virus, of which there are three serotypes.
What is the possible impact of the disease?
CSF, if left unchecked, could cause severe economic losses to the industry, which may have an impact on rural society. An outbreak of disease would result in severe restrictions on the movement of animals and the export of live pigs and pig products. From a welfare perspective, severe forms of the disease cause significant animal suffering.
Affected pigs may show any of a wide range of clinical signs, reflecting the fact that the virus affects most organs and systems.
For pigs kept indoors, some may be found dead without previous signs of ill-health. Others may refuse to feed, become dull and reluctant to move, and show a high fever with blotching, reddening or purplish discolouration of the skin. They may huddle together. A discharge from the eyes may develop. They may experience constipation, diarrhoea, coughing or vomiting. They may walk with a swaying movement of the hindquarters, show obvious lack of coordination or walk in circles. Some pigs may have convulsions and pregnant sows may abort.
In outdoor breeding-herds, or in cases of less severe forms of the infection, affected pigs may show very little apparent illness but may experience abortion, reduced litter size or the birth of weak or trembling piglets. A few pigs at a time may lose their appetite. As they recover, other pigs become affected. They may have runny or 'sticky' eyes or diarrhoea. The herd is likely to suffer an increase in breeding problems such as abortions, the birth of mummified or stillborn piglets, or congenital tremor. Mortality is ultimately likely to increase, particularly with pre-weaning piglets.
Classical swine fever is a notifiable disease. If you suspect CSF you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately by telephoning 03000 200301. Failure to do so is an offence.
What happens if disease is confirmed?
The premises where disease is confirmed will be referred to as the infected premises and will be put under restriction so no animals, carcases, equipment or any other thing can move on or off except under the authority of a licence issued by a veterinary inspector. An approved disinfectant must be used to disinfect footwear, clothing and vehicles before entering or leaving the premises. Restrictions on spreading pig manure and slurry will also apply.
The keeper must keep accurate records to show the number and type of pigs on the premises together with the number that:
- are alive
- show clinical signs of illness
- have died
- have been born
... since restrictions were imposed.
A protection zone of 3 km and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected premises where the disease has been confirmed are put in place. There are certain restrictions for keepers of pigs who are within the protection and surveillance zones.
Can people catch the disease?
CSF cannot be contracted by humans so there is no risk associated with contact with infected pigs.
Could it affect the food I eat?
No, it doesn't affect food we eat and it can't be contracted by consuming pork products.
What can be done to reduce the risks?
Good biosecurity. Biosecurity measures should be practised as a matter of routine. Trucks, lorries, market places and loading ramps - in or over which infected animals may have travelled - are a disease risk until properly cleansed and disinfected. Roads may also become contaminated, and viruses may be picked up and carried on the wheels of passing vehicles.
The boots, clothing and hands of any person who has been in contact with infected animals can spread the disease.
Livestock keepers can stay up to date with the latest classical swine fever developments via the APHA alert subscription service.
More guidance on classical swine fever can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.
- Animal Health Act 1981
- Animal Health Act 2002
- Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection) (England) (No 3) Order 2003
- Diseases of Swine Regulations 2014
Last reviewed / updated: November 2018
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.
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