About this Research Topic
African swine fever (ASF) is a devastating disease of pigs currently affecting countries in four continents. Research has focused largely on the virus and on the various transmission cycles that contribute to the complex epidemiology of the disease. In lower income countries, outbreaks have occurred mainly in smallholder and village pigs. Human activities involved in pig husbandry and trade have emerged as major drivers of the disease in both high- and low-income settings. These include implementing husbandry systems that in the presence of a sylvatic cycle enable potential direct and indirect contacts with infected wild hosts. In the absence of a vaccine or treatment, prevention of infection is key to controlling the disease and avoiding losses in the pig value chain. Strict biosecurity is an essential component of modern intensive pig farming and has proven instrumental in protecting such farms from incursions of ASF. Across the spectrum of more traditional pig husbandry systems that are important in many low income countries conventional biosecurity measures are often impractical. Studies have indicated that pigs are of great importance in low income settings for many reasons ranging from essential income generation to social and cultural practices that are highly specific to areas and communities. Losses due to ASF in these communities can be catastrophic with deep impacts on animal welfare, household economy and societal interactions. There is a special need to develop appropriate and feasible means to prevent ASF in such contexts. Sometimes the livelihood needs of subsistence pig farmers as well as traditional knowledge, customs and ways of understanding diseases conflict with often-recommended measures to prevent ASF. The problem needs to be addressed, but without a deeper understanding of how and why pigs are kept, what the risks are for the introduction, spread and maintenance of ASF, and why certain recommendations would be unacceptable, ASF will persist in these settings. Research has indicated that participatory approaches that include local communities can help pig farmers to formulate measures that are technically sound, financially feasible and socially and culturally acceptable.
For this special edition, we are interested in contributions to the theme African Swine Fever in Smallholder and Traditional Pig Farming Systems: Research, Challenges and Solutions. The suggested topics within the theme include but are not limited to Pig husbandry systems, Pig value chains, Risk communication and mitigation, Socio-economic drivers of ASF, Cultural factors in traditional pig keeping, Gender issues, Participatory approaches to achieving improved prevention and control of ASF.
Keywords: ASF management, informal pig sector, pig value chains, risk mitigation, community involvement
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