In the guide

This guidance is for England

Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. In its acute form the disease generally results in high morbidity and mortality.

It causes damage to blood vessels throughout the body. This results in widespread haemorrhages, which may be seen in live pigs as blotching and discolouration of the skin, particularly of the extremities. There are several different strains of classical swine fever.

What is the possible impact of the disease?

CSF, if left unchecked, could cause severe economic losses to the industry, which may have an impact on rural society. An outbreak of disease would result in severe restrictions on the movement of animals and the export of live pigs and pig products. From a welfare perspective, severe forms of the disease cause significant animal suffering.

Back to top

Clinical signs

Affected pigs may show any of a wide range of clinical signs, reflecting the fact that the virus affects most organs and systems.

Examples of clinical signs shown by pigs:

  • sudden death without previous signs of ill-health
  • refusal to feed and loss of appetite
  • dull and reluctant to move
  • high fever
  • blotching with reddening or purplish discolouration of the skin
  • swollen eyes and discharge
  • increased huddling together
  • constipation and diarrhoea
  • coughing and laboured breathing
  • vomiting
  • unsteady gait (they may walk with a swaying movement of the hindquarters, show obvious lack of coordination or walk in circles)
  • convulsions
  • the birth of weak or trembling piglets

The herd is likely to suffer an increase in breeding problems such as reduced litter size, abortions, the birth of mummified or stillborn piglets, or congenital tremor. Mortality is ultimately likely to increase, particularly with pre-weaning piglets.

Pigs infected with mild strains may not become ill or show clinical signs.

Severe strains of the disease are generally fatal.

Classical swine fever is a notifiable disease. If you suspect CSF you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately by telephoning 03000 200301. Failure to do so is an offence.

Back to top

Sources of transmission

  • feeding pigs with CSF-infected pork meat or products
  • direct contact between healthy pigs and pigs carrying CSF
  • direct contact of a healthy pig with:
    • infected faeces or saliva
    • contaminated pens, vehicles or clothing
Back to top

What happens if disease is confirmed?

The premises where disease is confirmed will be referred to as the infected premises and will be put under restriction so no animals, carcases, equipment or any other thing can move on or off except under the authority of a licence issued by a veterinary inspector. An approved disinfectant must be used to disinfect footwear, clothing and vehicles before entering or leaving the premises. Restrictions on spreading pig manure and slurry will also apply.

The keeper must keep accurate records to show the number and type of pigs on the premises together with the number that:

  • are alive
  • show clinical signs of illness
  • have died
  • have been born

... since restrictions were imposed. These records must be kept for six months after the restrictions have been lifted.

A protection zone of 3 km and a surveillance zone of 10 km around the infected premises where the disease has been confirmed are put in place. There are certain restrictions for keepers of pigs that are within the protection and surveillance zones.

More information on the disease control strategy for CSF in Great Britain and the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases can be found on the GOV.UK website.  

Back to top

Can people catch the disease?

CSF cannot be contracted by humans so there is no risk associated with contact with infected pigs.

Back to top

Could it affect the food I eat?

No, it doesn't affect food we eat and it can't be contracted by consuming pork products.

Back to top

What can be done to reduce the risks?

Good biosecurity. Biosecurity measures should be practised as a matter of routine. Trucks, lorries, market places and loading ramps - in or over which infected animals may have travelled - are a disease risk until properly cleansed and disinfected. Roads may also become contaminated, and viruses may be picked up and carried on the wheels of passing vehicles.

The boots, clothing and hands of any person who has been in contact with infected animals can spread the disease.

Back to top


Livestock keepers can stay up to date with the latest classical swine fever developments via the APHA alert subscription service

Back to top

Further information

More guidance on classical swine fever can be found on the GOV.UK website. 

Back to top

Trading standards

For more information on the work of trading standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.

Back to top

In this update

No major changes.

Last reviewed / updated: July 2022

Back to top

Key legislation

Animal Health Act 1981

Animal Health Act 2002

Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection) (England) (No. 3) Order 2003

Diseases of Swine Regulations 2014

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links often only shows the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the 'More Resources' tab.

What type of feedback would you like to leave
1a-User type
2a-User type
3a-User type
4a-User type

Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

How many years have you been trading?
How many employees are there in your business?

Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

Are you satisfied? Did this site answer your question?