African swine fever breaks out in Northern Cape

South Africa is fighting an outbreak of African swine fever, a highly contagious disease that causes fatal haemorrhages in pigs, the government said on Thursday.

"An outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) has been reported in the Northern Cape province in the Springbok area after movement of pigs from the Kimberley area," said the agriculture ministry in a statement.

The disease does not affect humans.

"Pigs become sick at a rapid pace and the disease can result in a great number of... deaths of pigs in a short span of time. Severe cases of the disease are characterised by high fever where pigs die quickly within two to ten days," the ministry added.

The disease is transmitted through contact with other infected pigs or ticks as well as by feeding pigs infected kitchen waste.

There are no estimates about how many pigs have been infected.

The ministry called on farmers to be vigilant when buying pigs and to avoid feeding the animals un-boiled kitchen waste which could carry the ASF virus.

South Africa suffered two outbreaks of ASF in 2016 that affected the industry and resulted in the creation of control zones to limit the disease's spread.

The country's pork industry employs more than 10 000 people but has already been badly knocked by an unrelated outbreak of listeria that centred on chilled pork products.

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