We have a new website go to gov.scot


Contact Details

Should you have any queries not answered in this section please contact us via our email address



Diseases - Swine Vesicular Disease - Guidance

Biosecurity Guidance

1. Introduction

Biosecurity is about being aware of the ways disease can spread and taking every practical measure to minimise the risk of disease spreading. It is about practical things you can do on your farm to help prevent the introduction and spread of swine vesicular disease ( SVD) to and from your animals.

Good biosecurity should be practised at all times, not just during an outbreak. Taking the right measures in the early stages of an outbreak e.g. before we know disease is in the country, can help prevent or reduce its spread.

In order to help reduce the risks of introduction and spread of disease as well as to eradicate SVD, it is vital that you practice the good biosecurity measures outlined in this leaflet

- this will help to protect your pigs, your business and those of your neighbours.

2. How SVD is spread

SVD is spread by the movement of infected live pigs but the following list shows some of the other routes by which SVD can be spread, but where good biosecurity measures can help to reduce the risk.

  • Contaminated footwear, clothes or hands of people who have close contact with infected animals, e.g. when feeding or examining them.
  • Equipment that becomes contaminated through use on or near infected animals.
  • Any vehicle that enters or leaves premises especially those areas where susceptible animals are kept.
  • Contamination from the carcass of an infected animal.
  • Contamination from any place where an infected animal has been; from pastures, loading ramps, markets, roads, etc.
  • Contamination from other animals such as dogs, cats, and foxes, which can carry infected material on their feet or coats, but do not become infected themselves.
  • Contamination through contact with infected animals from neighbouring farms where adequate separation distances are not in place.
  • Animals eating infected animal products.

3. Preventing disease spread - general biosecurity precautions

The following precautions will help prevent the spread of a number of diseases, including swine vesicular disease. It is strongly recommended that you include these precautions in your farm management routines wherever possible.

Moving between farms or groups of animals
  • Avoid visiting other farms unless absolutely necessary and follow all the procedures explained here when you do.
  • When handling your animals, be aware that pigs do not always show obvious signs of the disease and you could inadvertently infect other pigs.
  • Keep everything clean - materials like mud or bedding on clothes, boots equipment or vehicles can carry the virus from farm to farm or between different groups of pigs on the farm.
  • Make sure you have disinfectant and cleaning material ready at your farm entrance, so that essential visitors can disinfect themselves before entering the premises and as they leave.
  • As far as possible ensure that all people, vehicles or equipment moving between farms are cleansed and disinfected prior to moving.
Keeping pigs separate
  • Where possible, keep an empty field, river, woods or road between your pigs and any those on neighbouring farms.
Keep yourself clean

Materials like mud, manure, bedding or feedstuffs can carry the virus and may be picked up on hands, vehicles, clothing or equipment and transmitted to other animals.

  • Wash all dirt off outer clothes and footwear before you spray or brush on disinfectant. There is no point using disinfectant on dirty clothes or boots.
  • Keep footbaths covered so that rain does not dilute the disinfectant. Renew the disinfectant regularly as required by the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Never wear your working clothes when you leave the premises, especially if you are going anywhere near livestock - or near other people who may keep livestock.
  • If you have been visiting livestock, or places where livestock have been, change your clothes or footwear when you return home - and certainly before you visit your own animals. Wash dirty clothes at the highest temperature possible.
  • After handling livestock or any item contaminated with mud, urine, manure etc, remember to wash your hands, especially your nails with soap and warm water. Only a tiny amount of virus is needed to infect an animal.

Vehicles can carry the virus more quickly and further than anything else. The virus can be carried anywhere on the vehicle or its load - as well as on the driver.

  • All vehicles must be cleansed and disinfected before entering and leaving your farm.
  • It is not just the obvious places (like tyres) where infection could be carried, but also beneath and inside the vehicles. Drivers and others should ensure that they have carried out the required personal disinfection procedures before entering the cab.
  • Try to avoid driving though dung or manure on the road.
  • If material falls from your vehicle then, when possible, sweep it off the road.
Dealing with visitors

A major threat to your livestock is close contact with people - including those who deliver feed, fuel and fertilisers, or collect milk and other products.

  • Make sure that visitors always follow biosecurity measures for both themselves and their vehicles.
  • Make this as easy as possible for them, by having the proper equipment, including brushes, hoses, water and disinfectant, ready at your farm entrance.
  • Where possible, ensure that you keep a record of all people who have contact with your livestock or areas where there may be contamination.
  • Keep boundaries secure as straying animals could carry infection to or from your farm. Check fences, hedges, walls and gates.
Avoid visiting other farms
  • If this is unavoidable be sure to take all the precautions explained for cleansing and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and people when you leave your farm, before entering another farm, on leaving another farm and on return to your own farm.
  • Clean yourself and all clothing, footwear, vehicles and equipment on return to your own farm before you go near your own animals.

4. Early recognition and reporting

Clinical signs are indistinguishable from foot and mouth disease: samples must always be sent for laboratory testing before disease is confirmed. The severity of the disease varies from mild to severe, depending on the susceptibility of the pig and the strain of the virus.

Signs include:
  • fresh or healing vesicular lesions on the feet, especially the coronary band, and in other areas such as the mouth, lips, or snout;
  • lesions may be mild or inapparent, especially when pigs are kept on soft bedding;
  • lesions are similar to those of foot-and-mouth disease (however, affected pigs do not lose condition, and the lesions heal rapidly);
  • nervous signs have been described but are rarely seen.

If you suspect signs of any notifiable disease you must immediately notify Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA). You must not move any pig, carcase or anything else (e.g. feed or waste) suspected of being infected with swine fever until an APHA veterinary inspector has visited and decided whether it is necessary to impose restrictions. If the veterinary inspector suspects the disease, movement restrictions will be enforced and material from the suspect animals will be sent for laboratory diagnosis to establish whether the condition is swine vesicular disease or foot and mouth disease, or neither. Samples are examined for both these diseases.

5. Control measures during a SVD outbreak

Clinically, SVD is indistinguishable from Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD). Therefore, on suspicion, Scottish Ministers will declare a FMD Temporary Control zone (TCZ) around the suspect premises. This will be of a size considered necessary to prevent the spread of disease but it will be a minimum of 10km. Within the TCZ movement of all FMD susceptible livestock between premises is not allowed.

On confirmation of SVD:
  • Export health certificates for pig and pig products will be withdrawn. Exports from GB of pigs during the risk period will be identified and notified to the importing countries;
  • Diseased and other susceptible pigs on infected premises will be killed with a target of within 24 hours of report. Those identified as dangerous contacts will be culled with a target of within 48 hours of report;
  • A Protection Zone ( PZ) will be imposed with a minimum radius of 3km around the Infected Premises and a Surveillance Zone ( SZ) with a minimum radius of 10km. In the PZ and SZ no pig movements will be allowed for 21 days except under licence. In both the PZ and SZ, there will also be requirements for increased levels of biosecurity on farms, cleansing and disinfection ( C&D) of vehicles, people and machinery moving on/off farms. Movement of pigs, pig products, feed and bedding will be prohibited, except under licence. Products from pigs in these zones will be subject to treatment to ensure destruction of the virus. This is an animal health measure rather than a public health measure;
  • Disposal by rendering/incineration will be implemented immediately.

6. Extra biosecurity measures you should take during heightened risk or during an outbreak

  • Wherever possible do not allow vehicles onto the premises.
  • Only make essential journeys and, if possible, use another vehicle to visit distant stock.
  • If it is safe to do so, make sure vehicles park outside the farm. Make sure that vehicles visiting your premises do not drive near your livestock and keep the parts of the farm where vehicles have to drive as clean as possible.
Avoid Visiting Other Farms
  • Where possible, do not visit other farms.
  • Take as little onto the other farm as possible and leave your dog behind. Park outside the farm where possible.
  • Wear boots and clothing given to you by the farmer being visited and leave them there when you leave.
Keep Livestock Separate
  • Prevent people, vehicles or equipment moving between farms and even between different groups and types of animals.
  • Keep any animals which are not currently at your home farm away from there. If possible get a suitable person who doesn't have contact with other livestock to care for them.