Spain tests African swine fever vaccine

Spain, a country that has successfully fought to eliminate African swine fever (ASF) from its borders in years past, is testing a potential new vaccine against ASF virus. The oral vaccine has been tested so far on wild boars, but if the results are successful, it could be used to protect the country’s domestic herds.

A team of Madrid-based researchers tried the vaccine on nine wild boar piglets, and the results were as hoped.

“Our study demonstrates the effectiveness of the first oral vaccine against this disease on Eurasian wild boar,” said a co-author of a paper on the research, Jose Angel Barasona. “Overall, we demonstrate that oral immunization of wild boar conferred 92% protection against a highly pathogenic strain of ASF, which is currently circulating in Asia and Europe.”

According to WattAgNet, in the latest bunch of outbreaks, ASF has killed about 35% of China’s domestic pig herd. China is home to about half the world’s pig population, prompting concerns of pork shortages and price increases. The virus has also affected domestic pigs recently in other Asian and Eastern European countries, including Russia and Japan, and has been reported in wild boars farther west into Europe.

The team also found that contact between unvaccinated and vaccinated piglets could result in immunity being passed to the unvaccinated animal. Because of this, the experts think that administering the vaccine to wild boars through bait would be an enormous step forward in the fight to control ASF as it spreads across Eurasia.

What else we can do

Due to the increasing globalization of our food supply chain, and really our entire world, it’s easier than ever for viruses to jump borders and even oceans. Humans can spread ASF just as wild boars can, by carrying it with them on clothing, equipment, or by transporting animals. Studies suggest that 46% of ASF outbreaks are spread by vehicles and farm workers, and 19% by the transport of live pigs and their products.

For information on how to effectively execute a biosecurity program that can protect against ASF and other diseases, check out our previous blog post, “Strong biosecurity can mitigate African swine fever virus,” or learn more here.

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