African Swine Fever continues to rear its ugly head in more and more countries. China continues to battle the disease and efforts to keep the disease out of the U.S. are continually being increased. What is the future for ASF disease prevention?
With the disease becoming more and more of a U.S. threat, government officials are beginning to get involved. Currently, the main focus is improving testing methods and developing quick action response plans.
Detection of the virus in the United States would curb shipments in the $6.5 billion export market for American pork at a time when the industry is already reeling from retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and Mexico.
This disease poses no threat to human health but is still a devastating disease. In terms of economic repercussions, this disease will have huge impacts. Furthermore, there is currently no vaccination or treatment. Death is extremely rapid and mortality is high. Producers will lose large numbers of hogs in a short period of time if this disease enters their operation.
The USDA is asking veterinarians and farmers to immediately report sick pigs to government officials so they can be tested for African swine fever. The agency is also planning its response to a potential infection and increasing its capacity to perform rapid tests at laboratories.
The USDA has also given a notice of intent to license a vaccine for ASF. In the grant, the USDA stated Zoetis will have an exclusive license on two patents. If it is granted, it will give way to the development of a vaccine to control the disease.
However, government agencies aren’t the only ones doing their part to prevent and prepare for ASF.
Smithfield Foods is the world’s biggest pork processor. They have imposed strict restrictions on farm and facility visits. Additionally, people who have recently travelled internationally are prohibited from visiting.
Other producers are looking at things from a nutritional perspective.
In Minnesota, hog farmer Randy Spronk said he asked feed brokers and manufacturers, such as Royal DSM, about the origin of the swine vitamins and feed additives he buys. If the products come from China, he wants them kept in storage because the virus is thought to die out when held in dry conditions.
According to Brad Freking, owner of New Fashion Pork, they are asking feed companies to keep ingredients from China in storage for at least 30 days. Additionally, New Fashion is then keeping products in storage for another 45 days.
Keeping feed in storage increases costs for producers and takes up additional storage space. However, producers can’t be too careful when it comes to ASF.
Spread in China
Earlier this month, China reported ASF spread to southern China, a major pork consuming region. This was one of the biggest issues China was trying to prevent. When the virus broke in the northern region, one of their main goals was preventing the spread to the south.
China has reported more than 40 outbreaks of the highly contagious disease in 11 provinces and municipalities, culling an estimated 200,000 pigs. All outbreaks had been in the north and eastern provinces until the first case in Yunnan.
China is urging increased oversight of large-scale farms. This idea came after a 20,000-head pig farm in northeast Liaoning province reported an outbreak of ASF. Previously, only smaller farms had been hit.
Since, China has banned the transport of live hogs from provinces which have reported outbreaks. Additionally, they have also banned transport in bordering provinces as an effort to prevent the continued spread.
However, new cases are still being reported each day. Experts are working to crack down on prevention efforts and uncover suspected cases.
Additionally, some farmers are falsely reporting ASF to gain compensation for culling. This issue needs more attention from authorities. It is important to encourage producers to report every case. However, it needs to be closely monitored due to false reports.
China’s battle with ASF is far from over. They are working to prevent the spread and implement more controls.
Read more related ASF articles from Ag Nook including:
Additionally, “Biosecurity Not on the Back Burner”
With the threat of ASF becoming more and more prominent, government officials have decided to get involved. They are working diligently with swine professionals to develop prevention steps and action plans. Additionally, they have given a notice of intent to license a vaccine. China continues to feel the wrath of ASF and is even facing issues of false reporting.