Hog cholera is a contagious disease that -- as the name implies -- primarily affects pigs. The virus that causes it is often transmitted through direct contact between healthy swine and infected swine. There are three forms: acute, chronic, and mild. Because the disease was eradicated in the United States in 1978, animal health officials require pigs from foreign countries to remain in quarantine for 90 days before entering the country.
Hog cholera, also known as classical swine fever, is a highly contagious viral disease among swine.
This disease was eradicated from the United States in 1978, after a 16-year effort by the industry and state and federal governments. Today, only 16 other countries are free of hog cholera.
In the spring and summer of 1997, outbreaks of hog cholera were confirmed in Haiti and the Dominican Republic; both countries had eradicated the disease in the early 1980s. Also, in 1997, several European countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, experienced outbreaks and suffered heavy economic losses.
These outbreaks have animal health officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concerned that hog cholera could spread to U.S. swine herds. While the disease does not cause foodborne illness in people, economic losses to pork producers would be severe if hog cholera were to become established again in this country.
The most common method of transmission is direct contact between healthy swine and those infected with hog cholera. The disease also can be transmitted through contact with body secretions and excrement (feces) from infected animals. Healthy pigs coming into contact with contaminated vehicles, pens, feed, or clothing may contract the disease as well. Birds, flies, and humans can physically carry the virus from infected swine to healthy swine. Swine owners can inadvertently spread hog cholera through feeding their herds untreated food wastes containing infected pork scraps.