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African Swine Fever Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS)

Last revised 12/4/2023

Disclaimer: Risk group, biosafety level, and all other precautions noted here are subject to change after a risk assessment by EHS.


Agent Type Risk Group Biosafety Level Animal Housing Biosafety Level



Agent Characteristics 

Risk Group: RG-1, not associated with disease in healthy adult 

Agent Type: Virus, HHS Select Agent

Description: African swine fever virus (ASFV) is a contagious hemorrhagic disease of wild and domestic pigs. The disease does not pose a risk to human health but is characterized by high morbidity and mortality rates in the swine. Clinical presentation of the virus can range from subclinical infection to severe hemorrhagic disease in pigs. ASFV is part of the Asfivirus genus of the family Asfarviridae and is an enveloped DNA virus. More than 20 genotypes have been found with potential multiple serotypes recently described. Direct contact, indirect contact, and vector-borne (ticks) are the three modes of transmission for ASFV. ASFV is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, and several outbreaks have been observed in Asia and Europe. The disease has never been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. 

Host Range: All varieties of Sus scrofa (domestic and wild), African wild suid species, and ticks (genus Ornthodoros)  

Host Shedding: Blood, feces, urine, direct contact, saliva

Route of Exposure to Humans: This disease does not pose a threat to human health

Infectious Dose: Not applicable

Incubation Period: In swine, 4-19 days for naturally acquired cases

Health Hazards

This disease does not pose a threat to human health.

Agent Viability 

Survival Outside Host Disinfection Inactivation
Remains viable for long periods in blood, feces, and tissues, especially uncooked or undercooked pork products. Able to multiply in vectors. 

Susceptible to ether and chloroform. 

Inactivated by 8/1000 sodium hydroxide (30 minutes).

Hypochlorites – between 0.03% and 0.5% chlorine (30 minutes), 3/1000 formalin (30 minutes), 3% ortho-phenylphenol (30 minutes) and iodine compounds.

Heat inactivated by 56ºC/70 minutes; 60ºC/20 minutes.

pH inactivated <3.9 or >11.5 in serum-free medium. 

For more guidance on disinfection, see: disinfectant selection.

Laboratory Hazards 

  • High energy-creating activities (centrifugation, sonication, high-pressure systems, vortexing, tube cap popping) 
  • Handling of sharps (needles, scalpels, microtome blades, broken glass, etc.) 
  • Splash/droplet-creating activities (shaking incubators, liquid culturing, mechanical pipetting) 
  • Equipment contamination
  • Exposed skin/uncovered wounds 

Laboratory Acquired Infection (LAI) History: Not applicable

Laboratory Handling Guidelines 

Laboratory Biosafety Level (BSL): BSL-3

Attenuated Strain Alternatives: ASFV-G-Δ9GL/ΔUK and ASFV-G-ΔMGF 

Training Lab Engineering Controls Personal Protective Equipment

PPE will be as described in the BSL-3 IBC protocol for research. Generally, this includes

  • Facility specific closed-toed shoes

  • Facility specific socks and scrubs

  • Single gloves 

  • Additional gloves 

  • Disposable solid front gown 

  • Additional mucous membrane protection

  • Disposable outer sleeves

  • Respiratory protection

Waste Management: Regulated Medical Waste (RMW)

Shipping Guidance: Refer to EHS Biological Materials Shipping 

Animal Vivarium Guidance

Animal Housing Biosafety Level (ABSL): ABSL-3

Biosecurity Measures: fences, restricted visitor access, good hygiene, disinfection of footwear or the use of dedicated footwear, closed herds, quarantine of new animals, and other measures help prevent ASFV introduction onto farms of domesticated pigs. Contact with domestic pigs should be avoided, allowing a 5-day interval between hunting wild boars and being in contact with domestic pigs.  

Exposure and Spill Procedures 

Mucous Membranes: Flush eyes, mouth, or nose for 15 minutes at an eyewash station. See: responding to exposures.

Other Exposures: Wash with soap and water for 15 minutes (open wounds, sores, etc.) or a minimum of 20 seconds for areas with intact skin. 

Small Spills: Notify others working in the lab. This agent will only be used within a BSL-3 laboratory or ABSL-3 vivarium in a research setting. Follow the posted spill procedure within the lab.

Don appropriate PPE. For spills involving fecal material, cover the spill area with paper towels, working from the perimeter toward the center, and use paper towels to remove the spill and associated organic material. Discard contaminated paper towels. For spills involving fecal material and all other spills, apply (or re-apply) 6% hydrogen peroxide on the spill site. Allow 20 minutes of contact time. After 20 minutes, use paper towels to remove the 6% hydrogen peroxide. See: spill cleanup.

Large Spills: Notify others working in the lab. This agent will only be used within a BSL-3 laboratory or ABSL-3 vivarium in a research setting. Follow the posted spill procedure within the lab. You may request assistance from the EHS by calling CUPD dispatch. Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone.

Incident Reporting: Immediately report the incident to the supervisor and complete the EHS online injury/illness report as soon as possible.

Medical Follow-Up:

This agent is not a human pathogen.

  • For students, seek medical attention at Cornell Health or a local primary care provider. Call Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24-hour phone consultation line) or local urgent care. 
  • For faculty and staff, seek a medical evaluation with a local primary care provider or urgent care. Cornell Health does not see employees for post-exposure care. 
  • Emergencies: Call 911 from a campus phone or 607-255-1111 from a mobile phone. 
Cornell EHS would like to thank Emory University for using their Biological Agent Reference Sheet (BARS) format and some content. 

More Information


  1. CDC. (2009). Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.
  2. Gallardo, C., Nieto, R., Soler, A., Pelayo, V., Fernández-Pinero, J., Markowska-Daniel, I., … Arias, M. (2015). Assessment of African swine fever diagnostic techniques as a response to the epidemic outbreaks in eastern European union countries: How to improve surveillance and control programs. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 53(8), 2555–2565.  
  3. OIE. (2019). CLASSICAL SWINE FEVER (hog cholera).