WASHINGTON — Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a branch of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced a new effort to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF) to the United States. Through the Protect Our Pigs campaign, APHIS will provide commercial pork producers, veterinarians and pig owners with resources that help safeguard against ASF.

Highly contagious with no current vaccine, ASF spreads among domestic and wild pigs. While it does not affect human health, people can unknowingly spread it by carrying the virus on clothing, farming equipment or uncooked pork products.

"African swine fever is already devastating pork industries and economies around the globe, and if detected in the US, it could ravage our swine population, nation’s pork industry and farming communities,” said Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

While ASF has not been detected in the United States, it has spread as close as the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

As one of the largest pork producers in the world and the second-largest exporter of pork, the United States would be significantly impacted if the disease entered the country. The USDA estimates costs of $50 billion dollars over 10 years.

The USDA said its campaign is targeted toward the “nation’s first line of defense against African swine fever.” Those populations include more than 60,000 pork producers, over 1,500 swine veterinarians and pig owners of the estimated 250,000 to 1 million domestic pigs.

APHIS developed the Protect Our Pigs website, aphis.usda.gov/ProtectOurPigs, to house materials such as downloadable fact sheets and posters, instructional videos, shareable social media graphics, a new interactive biosecurity guide and offer the latest disease updates.

“USDA is working every day to stop this disease from breaching our borders and the Protect Our Pigs campaign is just one of many ways we are doing that,” said Jack Shere, APHIS associate administrator and former chief veterinary officer. “We are also meeting with pork producers to find out how we can best support their ongoing work in this area, increasing swine testing and conducting innovative vaccine research. Together, we can fight this disease and protect the US pig population, people’s livelihoods and way of life.”

On June 29 at 3 p.m. EDT, APHIS has scheduled a virtual event, “African Swine Fever: What You Need to Know.” The webinar will feature a panel of experts in the pork industry to discuss the disease, protective actions and answer questions attendees might have.