Classical swine fever

29 July 2022


Learn about classical swine fever and how the risk of an outbreak can be reduced

This guidance is for England

Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. In its acute form the disease generally results in high morbidity and mortality.

It causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body. This results in widespread haemorrhages, which may be seen in live pigs as blotching and discolouration of the skin, particularly of the extremities. There are several different strains of classical swine fever.

What is the possible impact of the disease?

CSF, if left unchecked, could cause severe economic losses to the industry, which may have an impact on rural society. An outbreak of disease would result in severe restrictions on the movement of animals and the export of live pigs and pig products. From a welfare perspective, severe forms of the disease cause significant animal suffering.

Clinical signs

Affected pigs may show any of a wide range of clinical signs, reflecting the fact that the virus affects most organs and systems.

Examples of clinical signs shown by pigs:

  • sudden death without previous signs of ill-health
  • refusal to feed and loss of appetite
  • dull and reluctant to move
  • high fever
  • blotching with reddening or purplish discolouration of the skin
  • swollen eyes and discharge
  • increased huddling together
  • constipation and diarrhoea
  • coughing and laboured breathing
  • vomiting
  • unsteady gait (they may walk with a swaying movement of the hindquarters, show obvious lack of coordination or walk in circles)
  • convulsions
  • the birth of weak or trembling piglets

The herd is likely to suffer an increase in breeding problems such as reduced litter size, abortions, the birth of mummified or stillborn piglets, or congenital tremor. Mortality is ultimately likely to increase, particularly with pre-weaning piglets.

Pigs infected with mild strains may not become ill or show clinical signs.

Severe strains of the disease are generally fatal.

Classical swine fever is a notifiable disease. If you suspect CSF you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately by telephoning 03000 200301. Failure to do so is an offence.

Sources of transmission

  • feeding pigs with CSF-infected pork meat or products
  • direct contact between healthy pigs and pigs carrying CSF
  • direct contact of a healthy pig with:
    • infected faeces or saliva
    • contaminated pens, vehicles or clothing

What happens if disease is confirmed?

The premises where disease is confirmed will be referred to as the infected premises and will be put under restriction so no animals, carcases, equipment or any other thing can move on or off except under the authority of a licence issued by a veterinary inspector. An approved disinfectant must be used to disinfect footwear, clothing and vehicles before entering or leaving the premises. Restrictions on spreading pig manure and slurry will also apply.

The keeper must keep accurate records to show the number and type of pigs on the premises together with the number that:

  • are alive
  • show clinical signs of illness
  • have died
  • have been born

... since restrictions were imposed. These records must be kept for six months after the restrictions have been lifted.

A protection zone of 3 km and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected premises where the disease has been confirmed are put in place. There are certain restrictions for keepers of pigs that are within the protection and surveillance zones.

More information on the disease control strategy for CSF in Great Britain and the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases can be found on the GOV.UK website.  

Can people catch the disease?

CSF cannot be contracted by humans so there is no risk associated with contact with infected pigs.

Could it affect the food I eat?

No, it doesn't affect food we eat and it can't be contracted by consuming pork products.

What can be done to reduce the risks?

Good biosecurity. Biosecurity measures should be practised as a matter of routine. Trucks, lorries, market places and loading ramps - in or over which infected animals may have travelled - are a disease risk until properly cleansed and disinfected. Roads may also become contaminated, and viruses may be picked up and carried on the wheels of passing vehicles.

The boots, clothing and hands of any person who has been in contact with infected animals can spread the disease.


Livestock keepers can stay up to date with the latest classical swine fever developments via the APHA alert subscription service

Further information

More guidance on classical swine fever can be found on the GOV.UK website. 

Trading standards

For more information on the work of trading standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

In this update

No major changes.

Last reviewed / updated: July 2022

Key legislation

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.

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