Sunday, October 07, 2018

McKenna On African Swine Fever


It's been a full week since China last reported an outbreak of ASF (see China: MOA Announces 5 New Outbreaks Of ASF In Liaoning Province), but it is hardly cause for celebration, as the past 7 days have been one of two week-long `Golden Week' national holidays celebrated by China each year.
Most government offices are either closed, or working with reduced staff, and few updates have been made to their websites - including China's Ministry of Agriculture.
Getting timely information out of China is always a challenge, but even more so during these prolonged national holidays. We'll see the next one in early February when China celebrates the Lunar New Year.

We have seen fresh reports of ASF spreading in Europe this week (see OIE: African Swine Fever Making Territorial Gains In Hungary and OIE: Moldova Reports 1st Incidence Of African Swine Fever (Wild Boar)),
reminding us that African Swine Fever is increasingly a global threat.
While ASF has never been reported in North America, the rapid geographic spread of the virus in recent years is a growing concern -  particularly given the arrival of PEDV five years ago - apparently imported from China (see mBio: PEDV - Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus – An Emerging Coronavirus).
Earlier this week, one of our favorite science writers - Maryn McKenna - penned an informative piece on ASF for Wired Magazine which explains:

Why Scientists Should Be Tracking a Catastrophic Pig Disease
Author: Maryn McKenna Maryn McKenna

As usual, Maryn does a terrific job concisely explaining the situation. Highly recommended.
While great lengths are being taken to prevent the entry of the ASF virus into North America, there are myriad ways the virus could arrive, making success far from assured.
You'll find details on the USDA's FAD (Foreign Animal Disease) Preparedness and Response plan against ASF in the last link below.
African Swine Fever

Last Modified: Oct 2, 2018
African Swine Fever (ASF)

African swine fever (ASF), first described in the 1920s in Kenya, is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of wild and domestic suids with extremely high morbidity and mortality rates. ASF is a notifiable disease with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) due to its ability to spread rapidly and cause severe illness. ASF does not pose a risk to public health. 

ASF is unique, as it is the only known arthropod-borne, DNA virus. The disease is endemic in Sardinia, most countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and some West African countries. Spain and Portugal eradicated ASF in the mid-1990’s; it was also eradicated from the Caribbean following outbreaks from 1977–1980. 

However, the unimpeded spread of ASF through Russia, the Caucasus and recent introduction into China is cause for concern. ASF has never been reported in the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.