Infographic: A Deadly Pig Virus’s Escapes from Africa
Infographic: A Deadly Pig Virus’s Escapes from Africa

Infographic: A Deadly Pig Virus’s Escapes from Africa

African swine fever virus has left the continent on three occasions, causing outbreaks in Europe, the Americas, and most recently, East Asia.

katya katarina zimmer
Katarina Zimmer

After a year teaching an algorithm to differentiate between the echolocation calls of different bat species, Katarina decided she was simply too greedy to focus on one field. Following an internship with The Scientist in 2017, she has been happily freelancing for a number of publications, covering everything from climate change to oncology.

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Jan 13, 2020


For centuries, African swine fever virus has circulated between ticks and warthogs in Africa as part of a natural lifecycle, occasionally spilling over to domestic pigs. The virus became a global concern when it left the continent and spread to the Iberian Peninsula—twice in the mid-20th century. The second time, it traveled across the Atlantic to the Americas. These outbreaks were successfully quelled through strict eradication programs, but a devastating epidemic now spreading across Asia has intensified global research into understanding ASFV and finding a way to stop it.

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Katarina Zimmer is a New York–based freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter @katarinazimmer.

Correction (January 17): The top image for this story has been corrected to identify the blue arrows as relating to a period from 2007 to present day. The Scientist regrets the error.