Classical Swine Fever

Europäische Schweinepest; classical swine fever (CSF); swine fever (SF); hog cholera (HC)

Changed on: 14.12.2020

Animal disease categories: A D E


Classical swine fever is a general condition in pigs that occurs cyclical. It is not dangerous for humans.


Worldwide, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand


All pigs, domestic pigs and wild boars

Mode of transmission

Directly from animal to animal and indirectly via contaminated objects, e.g. shoes, clothing, tools, transport vehicles.

Incubation period

3-8 days, chronic and atypical classical swine fever 3-4 weeks


High fever (40-41 °C), disturbance of the general condition, tiredness, tremor, bruises, purulent nasal/ocular discharge, first constipation, then diarrhoea, cramps. The mortality rate varies between 30% and 100%.


There is no treatment for classical swine fever.

Preventive measures

Prophylactic vaccinations are not permitted in the EU (if necessary, only with an exceptional permit from the EU).

Situation in Austria

Austria has been declared free from classical swine fever in domestic pigs since 1997 and free from classical swine fever in feral pigs since April 2003. Within the framework of the sampling programme 2019, 5,507 blood samples were analysed for the presence of antibodies and 2,081 samples were tested for the classical swine fever virus by PCR. In 2019 an additional 1,705 blood samples from domestic pigs were tested for antibodies and 177 samples from wild boar for classical swine fever virus. No classical swine fever virus or antibodies against the disease were detected in any sample.


    Professional information

    Classical swine fever is a cyclical general condition that occurs only in pigs. The disease is caused by the European swine fever virus (ESF, classical swine fever virus, CSF virus) of the genus Pestivirus, family Flaviviridae. ESF has been known to be an infectious disease since 1933 (Ohio, USA) and occurs worldwide, except in Australia and New Zealand. Only animals of the Suidae family (real pigs or old world pigs) are affected by swine fever. The classical swine fever virus is transmitted by direct (animal to animal) and indirect contact (e.g. shoes, clothing, tools, transport vehicles). The most important factors for an outbreak of classical swine fever are virus excreta and virus-containing slaughter and meat products. Shedding of the virus can start as early as one day after infection in saliva, nasal, eye and throat secretions. Shedding via urine and faeces starts later. Seriously ill animals shed the classical swine fever virus until death or until about one month after recovery. Chronically ill pigs and runts excrete the virus for six months. The virus is absorbed via the digestive tract, more rarely via the conjunctiva or the nasal mucosa. The incubation period of acute classical swine fever is 3-8 (12) days after natural infection and 3-4 weeks for chronic and atypical classical swine fever.


    The type of classical swine fever course depends on several factors (age, type of use, virulence, infectious dose). Congenital infections with classical swine fever virus manifest by weakness, tremor, runts with dermatitis, leukopenia and incoordination.

    Three forms can be distinguished:

    • Acute form (classic form)
    • chronic form
    • atypical form

    The acute form is accompanied by high fever (40-41 °C), disorder of the general condition, tiredness, anorexia, weakness of the hind hands, tremor, oedema (eye), purulent nasal/eye discharge, diphteroid deposits in the mouth/tongue, erythema, first constipation, followed by diarrhoea and cramps. The mortality rate varies between 30% and 100%.

    The chronic form is manifested by loss of appetite, emaciation, frequent changes of diarrhoea and constipation. The mortality rate is much lower than in the acute form.

    The atypical form is mild and prolonged; persistent diarrhoea, runting, and CNS disorders are typical symptoms.

    Classical swine fever is a notifiable animal disease. The control of classical swine fever is based on
    a) the prevention of the introduction and spread of the pathogen and
    b) the "stamping out" method (= eradication of infected and suspected animals). Prophylactic vaccination is prohibited in all EU countries, with the exception of Romania.


    detection methods:

    • Pathomorphological examinations
    • Detection of classical swine fever virus in organs by immunofluorescence sections
    • Virus cultivation in cell culture
    • molecular biological methods (PCR)
    • Detection of antibodies by ELISA
    • Serum neutralisation test (SNT)

    Contact, forms

    Institute of Veterinary Medicine Mödling (National Reference Laboratory)

    Robert Koch-Gasse 17
    2340 Mödling

    Phone: +43 50 555-38112
    Fax: +43 50 555-38529

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