Preventing African Swine Fever – First Ever Vaccine Created

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and wild pigs of all ages. It is found in countries around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, it has spread through China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and North Korea as well as within parts of the European Union. ASF is not a threat to human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. But the economic consequences from a spread of this disease are potentially devastating. Some viral strains of ASF cause near-100-percent mortality in swine. And, because there is no vaccine, the only solution once the virus is in a farm's pigs, all animals are euthanized. In addition, ASF outbreaks result in trade restrictions and significant economic losses globally. ASF has never been found in the United States – and we want to keep it that way. So, Agricultural Research Service Scientists (ARS) at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Orient Point, NY, are developing a vaccine using gene editing. Gene editing is a new type of genetic engineering where DNA can be directly inserted, deleted, modified, or replaced in the genome of a living organism like the ASF virus. Unlike early genetic engineering techniques, gene editing directs the modification to specific sites. In this case, ARS scientists used the technique to delete a gene from the virus and to create an effective vaccine to protect against the African Swine Fever. It is the only vaccine against the dis

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