Loading...
You are here:  Home  >  ARS  >  Current Article

Preventing African Swine Fever – First Ever Vaccine Created

By   /  August 10, 2020  /  No Comments

    Print       Email

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 disease world today.

In this 2:46 video, the scientists who created the vaccine explain their work. You’lll notice that it starts with one of them headed to work on a boat. The reason for this unusual commute is that, as the name suggests, the USDA’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center is located on an island. Its location and the restrictions surrounding it help ensure that the diseases and pathogens they study don’t spread to the mainland.

Want more?

This USDA web page provides additional information and resources on African Swine Fever.

    Print       Email

About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like...

Help Your Animals Adjust to a New Location by Feeding Familiar Foods

Read More →