The African swine fever control zone in South Africa and its current relevance

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 13
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    African swine fever (ASF) has been reported in South Africa since the early 20th century. The disease has been controlled and confined to northern South Africa over the past 80 years by means of a well-defined boundary line, with strict control measures and movement restrictions north of this line. In 2012, the first outbreak of ASF outside the ASF control zone since 1996 occurred. The objective of this study was to evaluate the current relevance of the ASF control line as a demarcation line between endemic ASF (north) areas and ASF-free (south) area and to determine whether there was a need to realign its trajectory, given the recent outbreaks of ASF, global climate changes and urban development since the line’s inception. A study of ASF determinants was conducted in an area 20 km north and 20 km south of the ASF control line, in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng provinces between May 2008 and September 2012. The study confirmed that warthogs, warthog burrows and the soft tick reservoir, Ornithodoros moubata, are present south of the ASF control line, but no virus or viral DNA was detected in these ticks. There appears to be an increasing trend in the diurnal maximum temperature and a decrease in humidity along the line, but the impact of these changes is uncertain. No discernible changes in minimum temperatures and average rainfall along the disease control line were observed between 1992 and 2014. Even though the reservoirs were found south of the ASF boundary line, the study concluded that there was no need to realign the trajectory of the ASF disease control line, with the exception of Limpopo Province. However, the provincial surveillance programmes for the reservoir, vector and ASF virus south of this line needs to be maintained and intensified as changing farming practices may favour the spread of ASF virus beyond the control line.