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Historical Article

History of ‘swine fever’ in Southern Africa

Mary-Louise Penrith

Journal of the South African Veterinary Association; Vol 84, No 1 (2013), 6 pages. doi: 10.4102/jsava.v84i1.1106

Submitted: 11 September 2013
Published:  29 November 2013


The histories of the two swine fevers in southern Africa differ widely. Classical swine fever (hog cholera) has been known in the northern hemisphere since 1830 and it is probable that early cases of ‘swine fever’ in European settlers’ pigs in southern Africa were accepted to be that disease. It was only in 1921 that the first description of African swine fever as an entity different from classical swine fever was published after the disease had been studied in settlers’ pigs in Kenya. Shortly after that, reports of African swine fever in settlers’ pigs emerged from South Africa and Angola. In South Africa, the report related to pigs in the north-eastern part of the country. Previously (in 1905 or earlier) a disease assumed to be classical swine fever caused high mortality among pigs in the Western Cape and was only eradicated in 1918. African swine fever was found over the following years to be endemic in most southern African countries. Classical swine fever, however, apart from an introduction with subsequent endemic establishment in Madagascar and a number of introductions into Mauritius, the last one in 2000, had apparently remained absent from the region until it was diagnosed in the Western and subsequently the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 2005. It was eradicated by 2007. The history of these diseases in the southern African region demonstrates their importance and their potential for spread over long distances, emphasising the need for improved management of both diseases wherever they occur.

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Author affiliations

Mary-Louise Penrith, Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa


African swine fever, classical swine fever, southern Africa, SADC


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ISSN: 1019-9128 (print) | ISSN: 2224-9435 (online)

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