Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research
versión On-line ISSN 2219-0635
versión impresa ISSN 0030-2465
FASINA, Folorunso O. et al. Spatio-temporal patterns and movement analysis of pigs from smallholder farms and implications for African swine fever spread, Limpopo province, South Africa. Onderstepoort j. vet. res. [online]. 2015, vol.82, n.1, pp.01-11. ISSN 2219-0635. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v82i1.795.
Infectious and zoonotic disease outbreaks have been linked to increasing volumes of legal and illegal trade. Spatio-temporal and trade network analyses have been used to evaluate the risks associated with these challenges elsewhere, but few details are available for the pig sector in South Africa. Regarding pig diseases, Limpopo province is important as the greater part of the province falls within the African swine fever control area. Emerging small-scale pig farmers in Limpopo perceived pig production as an important means of improving their livelihood and an alternative investment. They engage in trading and marketing their products with a potential risk to animal health, because the preferred markets often facilitate potential longdistance spread and disease dispersal over broad geographic areas. In this study, we explored the interconnectedness of smallholder pig farmers in Limpopo, determined the weaknesses and critical control points, and projected interventions that policy makers can implement to reduce the risks to pig health. The geo-coordinates of surveyed farms were used to draw maps, links and networks. Predictive risks to pigs were determined through the analyses of trade networks, and the relationship to previous outbreaks of African swine fever was postulated. Auction points were identified as high-risk areas for the spread of animal diseases. Veterinary authorities should prioritise focused surveillance and diagnostic efforts in Limpopo. Early disease detection and prompt eradication should be targeted and messages promoting enhanced biosecurity to smallholder farmers are advocated. The system may also benefit from the restructuring of marketing and auction networks. Since geographic factors and networks can rapidly facilitate pig disease dispersal over large areas, a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the complexities that exist around the animal disease epidemiology becomes mandatory.