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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

The first outbreak of African swine fever in Sweden: a survey of pig farmers' perceptions of information received, risks, biosecurity measures and future prospects

Rajala, Elisabeth; Groendal, Hedvig; Sternberg Lewerin, Susanna

Abstract

BackgroundAfrican swine fever (ASF), a viral hemorrhagic disease in domestic pigs and wild boar with up to 100% case fatality, was confirmed in Swedish wild boar in September 2023. The responsible authorities launched a control programme to eradicate the infection. The aim of the current study was to understand (i) how Swedish pig farmers have perceived the information issued by authorities and other stakeholders since the discovery of ASF in wild boar, (ii) which risks they see for introducing the infection to their farm, (iii) what biosecurity measures they have taken on their farms, and (iv) their outlook on the future. Such information is important for evaluating the effectiveness of the early stages of ASF control in Sweden. A questionnaire was designed and distributed to members of the Swedish pig producers' organisation.ResultsA total of 155 farmers responded to the survey (response rate 36%). Almost all respondents had received general information about ASF (91%, n = 138), and 72% (n = 109) had received information about how they can protect their farm from ASF introduction. A majority (87%, n = 118) thought the information was easy to understand, 90% (n = 137) that is was relevant, and 77% (n = 117) that they currently did not lack any information. If given the resources necessary, 58% (n = 84) of the farmers would like to take additional measures such as fencing, and heavily reduce or eradicate the wild boar population. Wild boars were considered the greatest risk for introduction of ASF into their herd (39%, n = 57), followed by people (30%, n = 44), and transports (16%, n = 23). Many farmers (66%, n = 88) had a positive outlook on the future, and 89% (n = 127) have not changed their plans for the future since the ASF outbreak.ConclusionsThe responding farmers were in general satisfied with the information received in the beginning of the ASF outbreak. The majority have a positive outlook on the future and the outbreak has not caused them to change their plans. Actions that were highlighted as important to safeguard Sweden's pig production included measures to control the wild boar population.

Keywords

ASF; Control; Impact; Pig production; Wild boar

Published in

Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
2023, Volume: 65, number: 1, article number: 58
Publisher: BMC