ASF Vaccine Work Continuing

African Swine Fever still poses a significant threat to the pork industry. It was a topic of conversation at last week’s World Pork Expo in Iowa, and leaders want to make sure the industry and its producers have the protections they need to prevent a foreign animal disease from taking hold. Dr. Anna Forseth is Director of Animal Health with the National Pork Producers Council.

“I’ve been getting a comment recently that it seems like it’s slowed down. We’re not hearing as much about African Swine Fever, and I would agree that we’re not hearing as much about African Swine Fever, but I think the message that I would like producers to hear is that the threat remains. It’s not like countries are eradicating this virus. ASF is in more parts of the world than not, and so the threat, the risk is the same as it was when we were really talking about ASF, and so we need to continue to focus on preparedness and response and on-farm biosecurity.”

Forseth says work on a vaccine still is progressing as quickly as possible.

“Yeah, the vaccine research continues. There are, you know, several different vaccines. This is an interest of industries far beyond the United States, and so that allows for a lot of collaboration across border and in countries that are dealing with the virus itself. So it’s not easy to make a vaccine for this particular virus. It’s not easy to get a vaccine approved for this particular virus, and so the expectation was not that it happen quickly. And so the update for now is that we are still working on the vaccine.”

NPPC is continuing to work with other animal industries like beef and poultry to lobby for funding for the needed tools and resources in the Farm Bill. Dr. Forseth calls it a barnyard approach

“So animal health priorities, and as you mentioned, amongst the barnyard, focus on a few different areas. First, funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. So here in Iowa, you’ve got a fantastic Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. A lot of updates to that laboratory recently, and so that’s certainly a member Lab of the nom. So continued funding for those, those laboratories, the National Veterinary vaccine and countermeasures bank, historically, is really focused on foot and mouth disease vaccine, and will continue. Should we get an approved African Swine Fever vaccine that would be an important asset for storing that vaccine in the event that we need we need it.”