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Promising Vaccine Candidate for African Swine Fever

Bloomberg’s Mike Dorning reported last week that, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture has potentially found a vaccine to combat African Swine Fever [ASF], a disease that devastated hog herds in China and was recently detected in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the agency said Thursday.

“The vaccine, which officials described as ‘promising,’ provided immunity to one-third of swine within two weeks and full protection in all animals within four weeks, according to a study.”

The Bloomberg article noted that, “It ‘could play an important role in controlling the ongoing outbreak threatening the global pork supply,’ said Douglas Gladue, a USDA researcher who co-authored the study.”

U.S. pork export and share to world export. USDA- Economic Research Service. Chart Gallery (August 4, 2021).

Also last week, DTN writer Todd Neeley reported that, “One of several African swine fever vaccine candidates has been successful in blocking both European- and Asian-bred swine against the current circulating Asian strain, USDA said on Thursday.

“USDA research by Agricultural Research Service scientists highlighted in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases shows one particular vaccine candidate also can be commercially produced and maintain its ‘vaccine efficacy’ against Asian ASF strains when tested in both European and Asian breeds of swine, USDA said in a news release.

“The findings show the vaccine could be replicated and prevent the spread of the virus, the agency said.”

Mr. Neeley noted that, “ASF led to rapid slaughter of millions of hogs in China in late 2018 and early 2019, cutting the world’s largest swine herd down as much as 40% and leading China to basically rebuild its entire swine industry in the process. The ripple effect led to a high volume of global pork exports to China, including from the U.S., in response.”

Germany was originally hit with ASF in its feral hog population last year, which effectively cut off exports from the country. German officials reported ASF had been found in at least three farms, affecting domestic pigs,” the DTN article said.

Meanwhile, in a separate DTN article last week, Mr. Neeley reported that, “USDA is directing billions of dollars to prevent the spread of African swine fever, bolster disaster programs in response to drought hurting cattle producers and farmers facing market disruptions.

“The agency announced on Wednesday plans to tap funds from the Commodity Credit Corp. as part of what USDA calls a ‘comprehensive investment package.'”

“The USDA plan will designate up to $500 million to prevent the spread of African swine fever by expanding and coordinating monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine and eradication activities through USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,” the DTN article said.

And Bloomberg writer Jim Wyss reported last week that, “Since there’s no treatment or cure for ASF, mass slaughter is one of the few ways of controlling the disease. Already the Dominican Republic has culled more than 65,700 pigs this year as it tries to avoid a repeat of a 1970s outbreak that led it to exterminate its entire pig stock—more than 1.4 million animals. China has been grappling with multiple outbreaks since the disease was first detected there in 2018. ASF is now present in 50 countries across Africa, Europe, and Asia

“‘This could easily be the most serious animal sanitary crisis of our generation,’ says Gregorio Torres, the head of the science department at the World Organization for Animal Health, a Paris-based body that helps coordinate the global response to outbreaks by disseminating information and publishing health and safety guidelines that can affect international commerce.”

The Bloomberg article added that, “The U.S. doesn’t import pork products from Haiti or the Dominican Republic because the two nations also have the less deadly classic swine fever. Puerto Rico recently banned any pork products from being exported or carried to the U.S. mainland, including the ubiquitous local delicacy empanadilla. And the island’s ports and airports are being heavily monitored, including by pork-sniffing dogs.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good

Keith Good is the social media manager for the farmdoc project at the University of Illinois. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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