USDA developing vaccine against African Swine Fever
On Sept. 30, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) published its research into a new vaccine that has been shown to prevent and effectively protect European and Asian swine breeds against the current circulating Asian strain of the virus that causes African Swine Fever (ASF). The virus has been causing devastating losses to the swine industry across the globe but to date there have been no U.S. outbreaks.
African Swine Fever (ASF) was originally detected in 2007 in the Republic of Georgia and is known to cause virulent, deadly disease outbreaks in wild and domesticated swine. Since the original outbreak, ASF has had a widespread and lethal impact on swine herds in various countries in Eastern and Central Europe and throughout Asia.
ASF outbreaks were confirmed in the Dominican Republic in late July and in Haiti in mid-September, the first outbreak in the Americas in recent history. APHIS has vigilantly executed safeguards to prevent ASF from entering the United States. The virus is unable to transmit from pigs to humans.
The ARS has published new research, that highlights a new vaccine candidate that has been shown to prevent and effectively protect both European and Asian bred swine against the current circulating Asian strain of the virus.
Previous studies were done under laboratory conditions only in European bred pigs using an ASF virus sample from the initial outbreak. ARS’s new vaccine studies revealed that immunity occurred in approximately one-third of swine by second week post-vaccination, with full protection in all swine achieved by the fourth week.
This research, highlighted in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, shows that ARS scientists have developed a vaccine candidate with the ability to be commercially produced while still maintaining its vaccine efficacy against Asian ASF virus strains when tested in both European and Asian swine breeds.
On Sept. 24, APHIS submitted a dossier to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) detailing the actions taken to finalize a new African Swine Fever (ASF) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The United States has kept ASF out of the country, and this action, coupled with existing, comprehensive import restrictions and safeguards will further strengthen protection for the U.S. swine herd given recent confirmed cases of the disease in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.