Dominican Republic ASF Outbreak Not Expected to Alter Risk to North America

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Farmscape for August 5, 2021

Full Interview 18:18 Listen

The Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center is confident the first outbreak of African Swine Fever identified in the Western Hemisphere in more than 40 years will not alter the level of risk for North America. The Dominican Republic has become the first region in the western Hemisphere to be infected by African Swine Fever in more than 40 years. Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg explains the outbreak was identified through a cooperative surveillance program where banked tissue samples from sick, dying and dead pigs as well as feral pigs collected in the Dominican Republic are sent to the USDA’s Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on Plum Island for testing.

Clip-Dr. Paul Sundberg-Swine Health Information Center:
That program discovered that African Swine Fever was on the island of Hispaniola and that has been the biggest thing that we’ve got going on right now. It is geography. It doesn’t increase the risk I think, of entry into the U.S. or into North America, including Mexico, because of that geography. But it also is important to point out that it is geography and that there are the processes and controls in place to keep the virus out of the U.S. just like there has been since 2018, working on the things to make sure it stays away.
So, Customs and Border Protection for example and USDA are working together in making sure that there’s interdictions at ports of entry where illegal products may come through. USDA has heightened up surveillance and we’re doing the things we need to do to try to ensure as best as possible that we’ll contain that virus on the island and not let it get away from Hispaniola.

Dr. Sundberg says the Dominican Republic is taking the necessary action to contain the outbreak and he expects more to be learned in the coming days or weeks about where the virus is, how it got there and the effectiveness of efforts to control it.

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