USDA is getting closer to an African swine fever vaccine
Nations across the globe are suffering billions in losses from African swine fever. Today, USDA’s Ag Research Service has good news to share in the efforts to fight deadly hog disease.
According to Chavonda Jacobs-Young, “Our animal research science has been able to identify promising, highly effective vaccine candidates that protect against African swine fever... We have a wonderful public-private partnership. So, our latest vaccine candidate has already been licensed to commercial partners to continue the research and to ultimately develop and disseminate this vaccine to industries.”
ASF has been called “pig ebola” because it makes the animal hemorrhage. It is highly contagious for the species and can kill a hog within a week of infection.
ASF has never been found in domestic or wild hogs in the United States and the government is working to keep it out.
The virus wiped out much of China’s herd three years ago and the country is still working to rebuild. It reported a new outbreak just this month, which it says came from illegal imports.
The Chinese government is working on an ASF vaccine, but there are non-government vaccines too. That has caused headaches for hog producers in China and possibly the U.S.
According to University of Illinois’s Dr. Jim Lowe, “Some vaccines have been produced in China which are illegal, or illicit, they’ve not been sanctioned by the government, that are called knockouts. So, they did some fancy gene jockeying, the magic of gene jockeying, they knocked out these genes, and then they put them in pigs as a vaccine.”
There is a bigger issue. The illicit vaccines do not provide much protection and they lessen the government’s ability to detect ASF.