The US government has announced steps to restrict the entry of African swine fever (ASF).

ASF is a viral disease that is spread through contact with body fluids from infected animals and has the potential to affect both domestic and wild pigs of all ages.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with multiple agencies, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to train and add 60 additional beagle teams that will be working at key US commercial, sea and airports establishments.

“We are committed to working with the swine industry, our producers, other government agencies and neighbouring countries to take these additional steps.”

It will coordinate with CBP on the expansion of arrival screenings at key US commercial sea and airports, including checking cargo for illegal pork products and ensuring travellers who pose an ASF risk receive a secondary agricultural inspection.

The authority plans to further increase inspections, as well as enforce garbage feeding facilities. It also intends to develop and use procedures that will be able to identify viruses in grains, feeds, additives and swine oral fluid samples.

Additionally, the government agency aims to work with Canadian and Mexican officials, as well as the US pork industry, to assure unified efforts to combat ASF introduction.

USDA marketing and regulatory programmes undersecretary Greg Ibach said: “We understand the grave concerns about the ASF situation overseas.

“We are committed to working with the swine industry, our producers, other government agencies and neighbouring countries to take these additional steps.”

USDA intends to protect the nation’s swine industry from this disease. It also noted that ASF does not affect people, nor is it a food safety issue.