In this file:
· Race for African swine fever vaccine as disease kills estimated 200 million pigs globally
… ASF is very large and complex — it is about 20 times the size of other viruses which have effective vaccines, and the traditional methods of developing one have proven ineffective…
· African Swine Fever Doesn’t Play Favorites
· Scientists Say a Quarter of Pigs Around the World Could Die of Swine Fever
Race for African swine fever vaccine as disease kills estimated 200 million pigs globally
By Daniel Fitzgerald, NT Country Hour (Australia)
Oct 31, 2019
Scientists are racing to develop a vaccine for African swine fever, a disease which has killed an estimated 200 million pigs, in an effort to halt its spread across the globe.
The virus was first described in the early 20th Century after an outbreak in Kenya, but for decades commercial companies had no interest in developing a vaccine because they did not see much of a market in poor African countries.
Then pigs started to die from the disease in Europe and further afield.
"The major impetus for a vaccine development came last year, when the virus spread to China and other countries in Asia," said Dr Linda Dixon from the Pirbright Institute in the UK.
"Then all of a sudden, everyone wanted a vaccine immediately.
Why is it so hard to create a vaccine?
ASF is very large and complex — it is about 20 times the size of other viruses which have effective vaccines, and the traditional methods of developing one have proven ineffective.
The CSIRO's Dr David Williams said an ideal vaccine needs to meet a number of criteria.
"It needs to protect pigs from subsequent infection in the field," Dr Williams said.
"Following inoculation the vaccine shouldn't make them sick — ideally it shouldn't result in shedding of the vaccine through saliva or faeces and spread to other pigs.
"It should also be diva-compatible, which means we should be able to differentiate between vaccinated and naturally infected animals, which is really important for trade purposes."
Dr Dixon is part of a team of researchers at the Pirbright Institute working on vaccine development, and are currently finalising candidate vaccines that might be taken forward to testing.
What is needed, according to Dr Dixon, is what is known as a live-attenuated vaccine.
"That is a vaccine that is based on the virus itself, so that it is weakened, such that it doesn't cause disease in the infected pig, but it replicates enough to induce an immune response that can control the infection," she said.
"The vaccine candidate has to be prepared by a commercial company, and the methods for doing that aren't yet established.
"So there is still quite a lot of work to be done to take a vaccine that shows promise in the lab, to being a commercial vaccine that is licensed by regulatory authorities."
How far away is a commercially available vaccine? ...
Can authorities stop the spread? ...
African Swine Fever Doesn’t Play Favorites
Jennifer Shike, FarmJournal's Pork
October 31, 2019
No country is immune from being struck by the deadly African swine fever (ASF) virus. To date, ASF has been found in 50 countries, has killed millions of pigs and taken a toll on the global meat and feed markets.
“I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen,” Mark Schipp, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) president, told the Associated Press. “And it’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”
Schipp said the sharp reduction in the world’s pig population – around a quarter of the world’s pigs are expected to die from ASF by year-end – would lead to possible food shortages and high pork prices as well as shortfalls in products made from pigs such as heparin, the blood thinner used in people.
“We are really facing a threat that is global,” OIE Director General Monique Eloit told Reuters. “The risk exists for all countries, whether they are geographically close or geographically distant because there is a multitude of potential sources of contamination.”
From the risk of tourists bringing back ASF from an infected country to small breeders using restaurant waste to feed their stock, the opportunities are high for ASF to spread around the world.
“In the short term we are not going towards an improvement. We will continue to have more outbreaks in the infected countries. Neighboring countries are at high risk and for some the question is when they will be infected,” Eloit said.
Unfortunately, controls are often difficult to implement. For example, Beijing issued a series of policies in September aimed at supporting national hog production and securing meat supplies, Reuters reports. But Eloit said the measures still need to be fully implemented.
“There is a difference between what is decided on paper - I do not think there is any concern here - and how we actually get to apply them on the ground especially in countries that are very large, which have a wide variety of production,” she said.
She notes that in Europe, the situation has been different because the outbreaks have mainly occurred in wild boars. ASF has been found on farms in eastern Europe but its spread has been mostly contained due to tight security measures.
U.S. on constant alert ...
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Scientists Say a Quarter of Pigs Around the World Could Die of Swine Fever
By Associated Press
via TIME - October 31, 2019
(SYDNEY) — Around a quarter of the world’s pigs are expected to die from African swine fever as authorities grapple with a complex disease spreading rapidly in the globalization era, the World Organization for Animal Health’s president said Thursday.
A sharp reduction in the world’s pig population would lead to possible food shortages and high pork prices, and it might also cause shortfalls in the many products made from pigs, such as the blood-thinner heparin that’s used in people, said Dr. Mark Schipp, the organization’s president.
The disease’s spread in the past year to countries including China, which has half the world’s pigs, had inflamed a worldwide crisis, Schipp told reporters at a briefing in Sydney.
“I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen,” he said. “And it’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”
African swine fever, fatal to hogs but no threat to humans, has wiped out pig herds in many Asian countries. Chinese authorities have destroyed about 1.2 million pigs in an effort to contain the disease there since August 2018.
The price of pork has nearly doubled from a year ago in China, which produces and consumes two-thirds of the world’s pork. And China’s efforts to buy pork abroad, as well as smaller outbreaks in other countries, are pushing up global prices.
“There are some shortages in some countries, and there’s been some substitutions using other sources of protein, which is driving up the prices of other proteins,” said Schipp.
Progress had been made toward a vaccine, but Schipp, who is also Australia’s chief veterinary officer, said the work was challenging because the virus itself is large and has a complex structure. He said a big step forward was the announcement last week that scientists had unraveled the 3D structure of the virus...