What is African swine fever?

ASF is a highly contagious viral pig disease. The most common symptoms of the virus in its acute form are a high temperature and loss of appetite; other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, and difficulty with breathing and standing. There is no treatment for the disease, some versions can have a 100% mortality rate in certain circumstances. It is not the same as swine flu.

How does it spread?

ASF can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals. Wild boar have been identified by some national governments as one of several possible culprits for the recent spread. It can also spread via insects such as ticks.

But the virus can also survive several months in processed meat, and several years in frozen carcasses, so meat products are a particular concern for cross-border transmission. It is believed that the disease was initially brought from east Africa to Georgia by contaminated pig products. Last week, a packet of sausages confiscated at a Japanese airport from a traveller arriving from China were found to contain the virus. Similar discoveries have been made in South Korea, according to reports.