African swine fever: Prevention through cleaning

African swine fever (ASF) can be found across the global map. Cases of the disease have been documented in Central Europe, some areas of Eastern Europe, Sardinia, parts of Africa and China. The virus is usually introduced via infected wild boar, travel, hunting tourism, freight or animal traffic. Through proper farm hygiene, farmers can protect their herds and prevent the spread of the virus.

Preventing African swine fever through cleaning

What is African swine fever (ASF)?

ASF or African swine fever is a severe viral infection that exclusively affects wild and domestic pigs and is fatal to them. African swine fever symptoms are highly distressing to the animals and infection creates additional work. The virus is usually introduced to a herd via infected wild pigs, travel, hunting tourism, or freight and animal traffic. Roaming wild pigs are also usually the culprits for spreading the pathogen, along with careless disposal of contaminated food waste. African swine fever doesn’t pose a danger to dogs and horses.

Uncompromising hygiene protects against African swine fever

Uncompromising hygiene on a farm is an essential part of effectively protecting livestock against the virus, forming as necessary element of a high biosecurity level.

Proper cleaning procedures and equipment will help prevent an outbreak of African swine fever on a farm.

In addition to organisational measures, such as reviewing the farm setup to identify and remove possible transmission routes, thorough cleaning with pressure washers can also help minimise the risk of spreading African swine fever pathogens.

Pig rearing

To prevent the disease from breaking out in the first place, the following preventive steps can be taken:

Requirements and laws

Step 1: Verify that the farm’s set-up is effective in preventing the introduction of African swine fever

In principle, it is essential strictly comply with the relevant biosecurity requirements:

  • Animal feed hygiene
  • Food hygiene
  • Food safety
  • Animal health codes

Together with the farm‘s veterinarian, any known transmission routes of ASF need to be stopped. This includes contact with people, feed, contaminated food, catering and slaughter waste, but also with manure, equipment or vehicles (e.g. livestock transporters). Clothing might also be a potential contamination route.

By examining the farm’s set-up, it may be possible to adjust the restrictions regarding access to the pens, the planning and maintenance of access and exit routes, the fences to keep wild pigs away, and the storage of feed.

Magnifying glass

Step 2: Check hygiene and cleaning measures to prevent the spread of African swine fever

Hygiene on the farm then also needs to be checked. If necessary, additional cleaning will be carried out in the barn units and associated rooms, for example via strict separation into distinct areas, e.g. black and white.

African swine fever control zones help make the requirement for the upkeep of hygiene clear. For example, stringent shower use and clothing changes for barn visitors and employees (as well as for the farm manager's family), but also the consistent cleaning of the distinct areas, e.g. white before black. Wet/dry vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners can significantly increase the effectiveness of cleaning walls, floors, wet areas, as well as items such as lockers and shoes, and significantly reduce labour time.


Step 3: Documentation of all measures against African swine fever

The documentation of all hygiene measures creates a transparency and traceability. In addition, it provides an overview to keep the work manageable even with high biosecurity standards and ensure the best possible protection of the pigs on the farm.

An overview of ASF precautions

Please click on the individual subsections to learn more.


Cleaning a cattle trailer

Whether a small trailer to carry five pigs, or a large vehicle for twenty, all livestock transporters should be treated the same in terms of cleaning and disinfection. Only good hygiene in the transport of cows, pigs and poultry will ensure that the transmission of pathogens from animal to animal or to humans is prevented.

Better protection against African swine fever using hot water pressure washers

The use of a hot water pressure washer improves results by up to 40 percent and accelerates the drying process of the clean surfaces due to the heat. The time saved in this way can be used, among other things, for repairing small cracks, crevices or holes in surfaces to prevent contamination sites for bacteria and viruses. Rodents and other pathogen carriers are also kept away by doing this. Surfaces should also be routinely controlled outside the barns as a preventive measure. This also contributes to minimising infection risks.

Cleaning pigsties with hot water pressure washers

Advantages of hot water high-pressure cleaners

Cleaning with hot water: High-pressure cleaners clean even better at a constant pressure. Alongside improved results and faster cleaning and drying times, hot water high-pressure cleaners also have a measurable germ-reducing effect. When the steam stage is used, even delicate surfaces can be gently cleaned with temperatures of up to 155 °C. Furthermore, the machines allow for a reduction in the working pressure, the time required and the volume of cleaning agent that is used. This means that cleaning with hot water offers a number of advantages and various possibilities for optimising the cleaning process.

Requirements for the use of mobile pressure washers against African swine fever

Stationary pressure washers have the advantage that they are permanently mounted and used in one place. This prevents the devices from spreading germs to other areas of the barn. To maintain a high level of biosecurity, mobile pressure washers must always remain outdoors or in the porch of the barn to avoid contact with germs in the barn. Like the other tools in the farm, a hose and washer gun with a lance attachment should be available for each barn unit. If a hose is longer than 60 metres, check and adjust the hose diameter to avoid pressure loss.

Preventive cleaning with portable pressure washers

More on Swine disease PRRS

The PRRS virus (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) is a pathogen that affects the reproduction of pigs and affects their respiratory tract. There are 2 types of viruses, the EU type and the US type. Due to mutations, there are now a large number of different virus variants.

The poorer the health status of the animals, the higher the susceptibility of the pigs to PRRS. The areas of husbandry, feeding and possible stress factors are also important considerations.

In the fight against the pathogen, the prevention of the spread of the virus within a farm environment and especially between farms plays an essential role.

In addition to regular vaccination, the spread of the virus within a herd can be contained by good management and preventive cleaning measures:

  • Work tools: Hygiene measures should be in place with regard to cleaning and working tools. Separate tools should be used for each barn unit.
  • Employees: To prevent transmission by employees, it is recommended to set up hygiene sluices with showers.
  • Vehicles: Clean, disinfected and dry transport vehicles should also be provided for on-farm transport of livestock..
  • Animal housing: Before housing new animals, clean and disinfect the enclosure thoroughly. When cleaning a pen, soak cleaned areas sufficiently and disinfect with listed agents. Allow the barn to dry sufficiently before re-housing the animals..
  • Include feeding equipment, feeders, treatment carts, driveways and the loading area in the cleaning measures as well..

Pigsty cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfecting the pigsty every time a pig is re-housed is a lot of work. However, it is worth the effort to ensure clean floors, walls and ceilings, feeding systems and partitions, from farrowing pens to heat nests and pig fattening compartments. With suitable equipment and cleaning agents, as well as an efficient approach, labour costs for pigsty cleaning and disinfection can remain reasonable.

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