China Searches for African Swine Fever Vaccine

China is trying to develop a vaccine for African swine fever, focusing on the “live” vaccine, according to the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology on Friday. 

China has set up a project that will also study the origins of the virus and the way that it spreads. Researchers from many countries have been working on a vaccine for ASF for some time. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or treatment for this deadly, highly transmissible virus. 

The quest for an ASF vaccine has been going on for 50 years. It’s no easy feat, because ASF is the largest virus known to man, says Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian at the National Pork Producers Council. To put it in perspective, a typical virus might have 10 to 12 proteins. ASF has over 150 proteins. Because of its size, it’s difficult to discover which, if any, of those proteins has the antibody that would protect against clinical disease. 

“The situation is complicated by scores of different strains for the disease and a successful vaccine is seen being a ways off as of yet, with some experts noting at least a decade of the hard task to be achieved,” said Jim Wiesemeyer of ProFarmer.

Meanwhile, China's ag ministry said new cases of ASF were confirmed in Gansu in the northwest part of China on Friday. The outbreak occurred on a farm with 190 live pigs in the city of Lanzhou, infecting 143 of the animals and killing 37, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.

China has already reported around 100 outbreaks of the disease in 24 provinces and cities since August. The disease is deadly to hogs but does not affect people. 

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