With Christmas quickly approaching, are you headed back home for the holidays? How about a vacation overseas? If “back home” or your vacation destination is in a known African Swine Fever (ASF) source country, it’s important to be mindful of what you bring back to Canada with you, to prevent the spread of ASF.
It would seem logical enough that clothing, especially shoes, could potentially transmit a virus. However, a less-obvious method is transmission via objects. Souvenirs often make their way into luggage during trips, but if your souvenir is a high-risk product, such as food, you might become an unwitting vector for bringing ASF and other foreign diseases into Canada.
In October, a contaminated package of pork sausages was intercepted by airport security in Hokkaido, Japan, in the luggage of a traveller who departed from Beijing, China, close to where ASF is particularly prevalent. While the traveller’s end destination is uncertain, transcontinental flights occur daily between China, Japan and west coast cities like Vancouver. From there, travellers connect to cities like Calgary and Edmonton and eventually commute to various locations, such as farming communities in rural Alberta.
In today’s highly globalized world, it’s not so difficult to imagine the ease with which ASF could spread to your herd. For this reason, it is recommended that all pork production premises have implemented policies for downtime and decontamination.
So remember: enjoy your trip, but be cautious when it comes to bringing items home. ASF is not a gift anyone wants to receive this time of year—or any time of the year, for that matter!