What is Aujeszky’s Disease? The Outbreak That Crippled Brazil

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An outbreak of the highly contagious Aujeszky’s Disease hit Brazil’s swine industry last year, putting the country’s pork exports and food security at risk. With cases detected in December 2022 on a pig farm in São Gabriel city in Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil’s farmers are still on high alert.

What is Aujeszky’s Disease?

Also known as Pseudorabies, Aujeszky’s Disease is caused by Suid herpesvirus 1, a herpesvirus that primarily affects pigs but can also infect cattle, sheep, dogs, cats, and wild animals.

While not transmissible to humans, it is highly contagious among pigs and can spread rapidly on farms through direct contact, contaminated food and water, and contact with carrier animals. 

Impact on Pigs and Farming Operations

The virus affects pigs’ central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems. Key symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors
  • Loss of movement in hind legs
  • Spots on the abdomen
  • Excessive salivation

Morbidity rates in naive herds can reach 100%, with mortality rates of up to 100% in piglets.

The disease can severely disrupt farming operations through decreased farrowing rates, aborted litters, and high preweaning mortality. Infected herds often must be depopulated to contain outbreaks.

Transmission Pathways

Aujeszky’s Disease transmission  occurs through:

  • Nose-to-nose contact between pigs
  • Exposure to secretions and excretions from infected pigs
  • Mating and artificial insemination using semen from infected boars
  • Indirect contact through contaminated equipment and vehicles
  • Feeding uncooked, infected pork products

The virus can survive for long periods outside the host in organic material, with Aujesky’s Disease having been detected in pork products months after processing. Wild animals and birds can also transmit the disease between herds.

Impact on Brazil’s Pork Industry

Brazil is the world’s 4th largest pork producer, so this outbreak threatens significant economic losses and trade repercussions. Domestically, it endangers Brazil’s food security, while tighter import restrictions from trading partners would severely impact Brazilian pork exports.

In 2003, an earlier outbreak led to the culling of 27,000 pigs. Pork is Brazil ́s most consumed meat, and the industry employs, directly and indirectly, almost one million workers.  Disruption in this sector would mean significant income losses.

Disease Control Measures

Brazil has implemented strict biosecurity protocols and movement controls to contain future outbreaks, including:

  • Quarantining infected premises
  • Restricted animal movement in and out of control zones
  • Tracing and surveillance of dangerous contacts
  • Enhanced swine farm biosecurity nationwide
  • Awareness campaigns encouraging swine producers to intensify AD monitoring and immediately report any suspicion of infection

Brazil’s livestock health regulations stipulate that all suspected AD cases must be immediately reported to state veterinary authorities, who will then confirm diagnoses and enforce control measures.

Long-term Aujeszky’s Disease Prevention

Swine producers play a critical role by adopting rigorous Aujeszky’s Disease prevention strategies on their farms, including:


  • Maintain perimeter fencing and access control
  • Ensure regular facility, vehicle and equipment disinfection
  • Control and monitor all traffic onto your farm
  • Isolate and quarantine incoming/returning animals
  • Verify health status of genetic introductions
  • Prohibit swill feeding

Herd health management:

  • Vaccinate incoming animals and maintain whole herd immunity
  • Test and eliminate carrier animals
  • Keep records of health status, vaccination and movement for traceability
  • Separate age groups with designated staff and equipment per group

Farmers must remain vigilant in monitoring for clinical signs in their herds and urgently reporting any suspicion of infection. Together, through collaborative disease control efforts, Brazil’s pork industry can overcome future outbreaks.

Inciner8: Safe On-Farm Carcass Disposal

A critical component of on-farm biosecurity is implementing rapid, safe and environmentally responsible disposal of potential disease vectors like infected carcasses.

Inciner8 offers high quality farm incinerators specifically designed for on-farm use, allowing swine producers to safely destroy pig carcasses in the event of an outbreak. The Inciner8 team also provides planning support, installation, and maintenance services to ensure incinerators’ smooth deployment and operation on farms of all sizes.

By investing in an Inciner8 farm incinerator tailored to your needs, you can strengthen your biosecurity protocols with on-demand carcass disposal capabilities. Contact us today to discuss custom incineration solutions for protecting your livestock.

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