USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is collaborating with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on a new protocol to help ensure bilateral trade will continue if African swine fever (ASF) is detected in feral swine in either country, while still absent from domestic swine.
The protocol’s aim is to protect swine populations in both countries during an ASF epidemic in feral pigs while minimizing the effect on live swine, swine products, and other swine commodities trade.
“Continuing trade with Canada in the event of a feral African Swine Fever detection is important to our stakeholders, and this trading protocol provides the necessary guidance to minimize the impact to the swine industry,” says Burke Healey, USDA’s chief veterinarian. “This collaborative effort uses a science-based approach to ensure trade between both countries resumes as quickly as possible.”
Though eating pork or pork products carrying the ASF virus is not a health concern for humans, the virus spreads quickly and is highly contagious among swine, causing sickness and death to pigs within a few days. It is therefore a major food security concern because the fast spread of the virus can cause death of the pigs easily in a short amount of time, which can significantly reduce the supply of pork and pork products.
Initially, if an ASF-infected feral swine was discovered, all trade between the two countries would be halted. The new protocol calls for trade to resume in three stages, with increasingly fewer restrictions on live pigs, swine germplasm, and untreated pig commodities.
Once the U.S. and Canada develop initial control areas, begin surveillance and removal in feral swine, and begin surveillance in captive swine, step two of the protocol will be determined. Trade restrictions are restricted to the limits of the defined control area during the third and final process.
APHIS and CFIA are collaborating with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that both countries have the processes and procedures in place to fully enforce the new protocol.