Outbreak of Salmonella cholerasuis NOT "Pig Cholera" or Swine Fever | Western Cape Government


Outbreak of Salmonella cholerasuis NOT "Pig Cholera" or Swine Fever

7 June 2004

The Minister of Agriculture of the Western Cape, Mr Cobus Dowry today cautioned against confusion of the disease responsible for deaths on a pig farm in Philippi with a more serious disease of pigs feared internationally but does not occur in South Africa.


Mr Dowry said that the recent outbreak of Salmonella cholerasuis in a piggery in Philippi in the Cape Metropol area has led to widespread concern amongst pig producers countrywide due to confusion arising from the use of the term "pig cholera" to describe the condition. There is a disease known internationally as Hog Cholera or European Swine Fever, which is totally different, being caused by a virus, which is internationally notifiable and a controlled disease due to its virulence and the widespread loss of pigs it causes. Hog cholera or European Swine Fever does not occur in South Africa. It is not treatable and the only method of control is to slaughter out all the animals on the infected properties in order to prevent it spreading further and causing more devastation.

In contrast, the infection on the farm in Philippi is vastly different as the disease Salmonella cholerasuis, is caused by a bacterium and is known to occur sporadically in South Africa. It is not controlled or a notifiable disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act as it can be prevented and the treated. The bacterium can be present normally in the tonsils of healthy pigs and only manifests as a disease when the animals are placed under certain stress conditions, which cause their immunity to weaken, and so they become susceptible. The condition can be eliminated by improvements in management, hygiene, nutrition, reducing stress factors, antibiotic treatment and removing carrier pigs.

Mr Dowry said that it is important to put the minds of the general public and all pig producers at ease knowing there is no risk of contracting the condition provided they practice good bio-security measures and to be careful to buy pigs from sources of unknown or poor health status. By confusing the two vastly different conditions could also send out the wrong message to our international trade partners in animals and animal products, which could harm the meat export industry.

The Director of Veterinary Services of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Dr Gideon Brückner, confirmed that the outbreak of the disease on the farm is under control and has reached the final stage of elimination of factors on the farm that could contribute to the maintenance of the disease. This was mainly as a result of cooperative efforts between the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Departments of Health and Disaster Management of the Cape Metropole.

Enquiries: Alie vanJaarsveld

Dr Gideon Brückner
Director Veterinary Services
Department of Agriculture
Western Cape Province
Tel: 083 641 5163