African Swine Fever: Prevention Through Cleaning

Outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) have long been known in some parts of eastern Europe, Sardinia, parts of Africa, and China. Most recently, the virus has spread to Belgium in central Europe. As the possibility of the disease being introduced into other central European countries grows, the transport of goods and animals can no longer be ignored. Proper cleaning on farms allows farmers to make an important contribution to protecting their livestock.

pigs sitting in a pen

Protection through uncompromising hygiene

African swine fever (ASF) is a serious viral infection that affects only wild and domestic pigs and can be fatal to them. The spread of ASF is often caused by the careless disposal of contaminated food waste. Uncompromising hygiene on the farm is an indispensable prerequisite for effectively protecting livestock against the virus. The following steps should be taken to prevent the disease outbreak:

illustration for regulations and law

Step 1: Check farm organization

In principle, it is absolutely essential to strictly follow the local, national and international regulations on biosafety (Animal feed hygiene (EC 183/2005), Food hygiene (EC 852/2004), Food safety (EC 178/2002), Animal health law (EU 2016/429)).

In consultation with a farm vet, it is important to prevent the known transmission paths, i.e. contact with people, animal feed, contaminated food, food and slaughterhouse waste, manure, equipment and vehicles (e.g. livestock transporters). Clothing must also be taken into consideration.

In practice, this means checking the organization of the farm so that, if necessary, access restrictions to the sheds, the planning of and compliance with designated access and exit routes, fences for strictly ensuring that wild pigs are kept away, and the storage of animal feed and equipment can be adapted.

illustration of a magnifying glass

Step 2: Check work hygiene

In addition, the hygiene work itself must be checked, and if necessary the cleaning in the shed units and associated rooms carried out, e.g. by means of the strict separation into black and white areas.

This separation into a dirty black area and a clean white area results not only in the strict adherence to regulations on showers and clothes changing for shed visitors and employees (as well as for the facility manager's family), but also the consistent cleaning of both areas in the sequence white before black. In this connection, in the white area the use of wet and dry vacuum cleaners and steam cleaners can significantly increase the effectiveness of the cleaning of walls, floors and wet areas, as well as objects such as lockers and shoes, and also considerably reduce the work time.

illustration of a checklist

Step 3: Document all measures

The documentation of all measures ensures a high degree of transparency and comprehensibility. Furthermore, it provides an overview in order to keep effort and expenditures under control even with high biosafety standards, while still guaranteeing optimum protection of the pigs on the farm.

ASF-Prevention at a glance


EASY!Force cleaning to reduce germs

Improved results with hot water pressure washers

The use of hot water pressure washers improves the result by up to 40 percent, with the heat accelerating the drying process of the cleaned areas. The time saved can be used, among other things, for the consistent repair of small cracks, gaps or holes in order to eliminate sources of contamination for bacteria and viruses. Rodents and other germ carriers are also kept outside. They should also be routinely combated outside the sheds as a precautionary measure. This additionally contributes to the interruption of the chains of infection.

cleaning outside of pig pen areas

Requirements for the use of mobile pressure washers

The high level of biosafety that is ensured with stationary pressure washers that are permanently installed at a single location can also be achieved for mobile machines. For this reason, mobile pressure washers must always be kept outdoors or in the anteroom of the shed unit in order to prevent contact with the germs in the shed. As with the other tools in the facility, for each shed unit a hose and trigger gun with lance must be separately available. Here, it is important that in the case of hose lengths of over 200-ft the hose diameter is checked and adjusted as necessary in order to prevent pressure losses.

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