Flies that have been in contact with pigs infected with African swine fever (ASF) could be responsible for spreading the disease between herds. Researchers at Denmark’s national veterinary institute found that pigs can become infected with the virus if they ingest flies carrying the virus.
The results pose extra biosecurity challenges for producers, who should employ good disinfection practices to limit fly numbers, in addition to ensuring wild animals are kept out of farms, the researchers said.
ASF has been spreading across Eastern Europe in recent months, with wild boar populations and contaminated meat identified as the main factors behind infections. Scientists wanted to identify the risk biting flies pose to spreading the virus, as larger insects such as horseflies could feed on dead wild boar before finding their way onto farms.
The results show that not only can biting flies carry ASF by feeding on infected pigs, they can also infect healthy animals if they are eaten.