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Clinical signs and Differential Diagnosis of Classical Swine Fever

  • Classical swine fever (CSF) is caused by an enveloped RNA virus which belongs to the genus pestivirus of the Flaviviridae family. It is related to the ruminant Pestiviruses causing bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) and Border Disease (BD). This relationship has serious diagnostic consequences as cross reactions occur and may lead to false positive results in laboratory tests.
  • Classical swine fever Virus (CSFV) is relatively stable in moist excretions of infected pigs, pig carcasses and fresh pig meat and some pig meat products. It is readily inactivated by detergents, lipid solvents, proteases and common disinfectants.
  • The main natural route of infection is oronasal by direct or indirect contact with infected pigs or by feeding of virus contaminated feed. In areas with a high density of pigs spread of virus easily occurs between neighbouring pig holdings. Disease transmission via semen of infected boars may also occur.
  • The incubation period in individual animals is about one week to ten days, but under field conditions clinical symptoms may become evident in a holding not until two to four weeks after virus introduction or even later if only adult breeding pigs or mild strains of virus are involved. Highly virulent strains can cause clinical symptoms as early as 2 days post infection.
  • The clinical signs of CSF are extremely variable and may be mistaken for many other diseases. Severity of symptoms mainly depends on the age of the animal and virus virulence. Usually young animals are affected more severely than older animals. In older breeding pigs the course of the infection is often mild or even subclinical.
  • Acute, chronic and prenatal forms of classical swine fever can be distinguished.