Author: Dr Mary-Louise Penrith
Adapted from:

  1. Penrith, M.-L., Vosloo, W. & Mather, C., 2011, Classical swine fever (hog cholera): Review of aspects relevant to control. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases 58: 186 – 197
  2. Van Oirschot J. 2004 Hog cholera. In Coetzer J A W & Tustin R C (eds) Infectious Diseases of Livestock (2nd edn) Vol 2 Oxford University Press, Cape Town: 975 - 986


Classical swine fever (CSF), known in the Unites States of America as hog cholera, is an acute to chronic disease of pigs. In its acute form it presents as a highly lethal haemorrhagic fever that is indistinguishable from African swine fever (ASF). It is caused by a small, single-stranded enveloped RNA virus of the genus Pestivirus, family Flaviviridae, which is closely related to the viruses that cause bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD)/mucosal disease in cattle and border disease in sheep. Although both viruses can infect pigs, no clinical signs have been observed to develop, but BVD viral particles have been detected in pig faeces and infected pigs or pig manure could therefore be a source of infection for cattle. CSF is considered to be the most feared and important disease of pigs worldwide.

CSF was first reported from the USA in 1830 and soon became widespread throughout the American continent, Europe and Asia. It has been eradicated from North America and from Western Europe apart from some reservoirs in wild boars, but is still present in several South American countries and in much of Eastern Europe and Asia. Outbreaks were reported in South Africa in 1905 and eradication was only accomplished by 1918. CSF appears to be absent from continental Africa, but there is long-time endemic infection in Madagascar. Mauritius suffered outbreaks from 2000-2002, apparently due to an introduction from Madagascar, and outbreaks occurred in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa from 2005 until 2007. At present CSF occurs concurrently with ASF only in Sardinia, Madagascar and Russia.