African Swine Fever Vaccine Candidates Show Promise, But Work Needed

antibiotic needle ( iStock )

Will a Chinese vaccine against African swine fever (ASF) bring the world one step closer to preventing one of its most devastating diseases of pigs?

Chinese researchers at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, part of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), published a paper in March claiming that a live attenuated vaccine they had developed was safe and effective against ASF in laboratory tests, Reuters reports.

Approved clinical trials have been underway since April on 3,000 pigs, Reuters reports. Testing of the vaccine has been taking place in stages on three farms in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the far western region of Xinjiang and the central province of Henan. The trials will be completed this month.

Until now, vaccinated pigs have proved healthy, Reuters reports, with no miscarriages in sows or differences in litter sizes, when compared to a control group. The vaccinated pigs are neither shedding nor transmitting the virus, the article said.

Vaccine challenges persist
“There are promising candidates out there,” said Liz Wagstrom, DVM and chief veterinarian at the National Pork Producers Council, during the Farm Journal PORK Week webinar, “Don’t Take Your Eyes off of African Swine Fever.”

However, to be valuable to the U.S., Wagstrom said the vaccine should prevent infection, not just reduce disease. The vaccine also cannot shed. In addition, she said a differential blood test is needed. 

“While the candidates are promising, none of them we have seen probably fit all three of those criteria,” Wagstrom said.

To learn more about the global status of ASF, watch Wagstrom along with Gordon Spronk of Pipestone Veterinary Services and Patrick Webb of the National Pork Board in the Farm Journal PORK Week webinar.

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