African Swine Fever (ASF) has devastated the swine herd in China and continues to spread around the world. It has never been in the United States or North America. Humans cannot get ASF and it does nor cause and food safety concerns. You could eat a ham sandwich form a pig with ASF and it would not affect you. The disease only affects pigs!

With the outbreak of ASF spreading there has been a lot of work on developing a vaccine. For some reason, beyond my simple mind to understand, the ASF virus is very complex and slightly different than many other viruses. This makes it very difficult to develop a vaccine. However, scientists are making progress developing vaccine!

A paper was recently published showing a team of USDA researchers at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center are making progress developing a vaccine for ASF. The vaccine candidate was developed using a mutation of the wild 2007 ASF virus isolated from the Republic of Georgia. That is the origin of the current ASF outbreak in Asia and Europe.

"The break though came when researchers deleted a single gene in the virus genome, known as l177L." This one change in the live virus offers full protection against the outbreak strain spreading around the world. Pigs that received the experimental vaccine remained clinically normal during the 28 day observation period!

The next step is for USDA researchers to find a commercial partner to do more testing and larger sample sizes. There is a lot of work to do before we could see governmental approvals and commercialization. But to my simple mind, it sure sounds like USDA researchers took a giant step forward finding a vaccine to stop the spread of this terrible disease!


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