An end may soon be coming to the threat posed to the world’s pigs by African Swine Fever (ASF).
Scientists with the USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) on Monday announced that a potential vaccine ASF passed an important safety test required for regulatory approval, moving the vaccine closer to commercial availability.
"This is a critical milestone for the ASF vaccine candidate. These safety studies bring this vaccine one step closer to being available on the market," said senior ARS scientist Manuel Borca.
Although the virus is causing profound economic losses to the swine industry, there have not been any outbreaks in the US or Canada. The highly contagious ASF virus spread from Africa to the Republic of Georgia in 2007, and has since swept through Central Europe and Asia, before reaching the Dominican Republic in 2021. The disease devastated the Chinese hog herd, the world’s biggest.
There is currently no treatment or vaccine available for ASF, with depopulating all affected or exposed swine herds the only way to stop it.
Although ASF poses no risk to humans or other animals, an outbreak of ASF in Canada could devastate the Canadian pig herd, placing farm families and tens of thousands of jobs along the entire value chain at risk. A single, positive case could result in the immediate suspension of pork and pig exports valued at over $5 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Pork Council.
Over the past three years, pork producers and government officials have worked closely to strengthen Canada’s capacity to prevent and, if necessary, respond to an ASF outbreak.
A 2020 study conducted by Iowa State University agricultural economists found an ASF outbreak could cost the US swine industry as much as $50 billion over 10 years.
Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.
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