African swine fever was reported in domestic pigs in 26 African countries during the period 2009–2011.
The virus exists in an ancient sylvatic cycle between warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) and argasid ticks
of the Ornithodoros moubata complex in many of the countries reporting outbreaks and in two further
countries in the region. Eradication of the virus from the countries in eastern and southern Africa where
the classic sylvatic cycle occurs is clearly not an option. However, the virus has become endemic in domestic
pigs in 20 countries and the great majority of outbreaks in recent decades, even in some countries
where the sylvatic cycle occurs, have been associated with movement of infected pigs and pig meat. Pig
production and marketing and ASF control in Africa have been examined in order to identify risk factors
for the maintenance and spread of ASF. These include large pig populations, traditional free-range
husbandry systems, lack of biosecurity in semi-intensive and intensive husbandry systems, lack of organisation
in both pig production and pig marketing that results in lack of incentives for investment in pig
farming, and ineffective management of ASF. Most of these factors are linked to poverty, yet pigs are
recognised as a livestock species that can be used to improve livelihoods and contribute significantly to
food security. The changes needed and how they might be implemented in order to reduce the risk of
ASF to pig producers in Africa and to the rest of the world are explored.