The global outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) -- a disease affecting only pigs, with no human health or food safety risks -- is growing, with new cases appearing throughout Southeast Asia and China.
While there are no reported cases of ASF in the U.S., a grant recently awarded to the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), with active support from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), aims to start a dialogue between the two regions to share veterinary knowledge and ways to prevent the disease from spreading further.
The approximately $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service will fund the multi-phase project, which will help build strategic partnerships while increasing trade of U.S. pork to the region, a joint statement from SHIC and NPPC said.
The work will include swine health field projects, including collection and analysis of disease samples, which are valuable data for all participants and U.S. pork producers.
"Pork production is a global business, and working with industry representatives from Vietnam on these projects will be mutually beneficial for all," SHIC executive director Paul Sundberg said. "The Swine Health Information Center looks forward to fulfilling the responsibilities of this grant from USDA and, in the process, deliver value to U.S. producers for the benefit of national herd health."
NPPC president David Herring added, "NPPC, in partnership with SHIC, National Pork Board, American Association of Swine Veterinarians and USDA, is committed to reducing the risk of the U.S. swine herd contracting foreign animal diseases, including ASF. With ASF spreading throughout Asia, this project will represent an important tool to further open both communication and markets between our regions."
According to the announcement, under the first phase of the project, the groups will identify and meet with key stakeholders in Vietnam. In phase two, the groups will train the Vietnamese veterinary workforce on ASF prevention and control to help build local veterinary capacity. Concurrently, in the final phase, ASF-related field projects will be implemented, including those that help inform the U.S. pork industry about effective ASF preparedness and response.
Information the projects will gain include:
* Identifying pathways for viral entry on farms;
* Validating use of swine oral fluids to confirm a farm's or region's positive or negative status;
* Exploring the potential to isolate the virus on one area of a farm to enable other areas to provide pigs that are free of ASF contamination;
* Validating cleaning and disinfecting procedures so farms may be repopulated as soon as it is safe, and
* Assessing cross-border risks and risk management of transboundary swine diseases.
NPPC and SHIC said they are working closely with USDA and other industry organizations to first prevent ASF from entering the U.S. swine herd and to be prepared to respond should an outbreak occur. The industry is actively identifying and prioritizing critical research needs and working in collaboration with state and federal animal health officials to make sure that, at a national level, all appropriate biosecurity measures are being implemented.
For further information on industry-wide efforts to prevent ASF, click here.