A new emerging pathogen, African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) has caused outbreaks in 15 countries, including across Europe, and a month ago it was identified in China, the world’s largest producer of pork. The U.S. pork industry is highly vulnerable, as it imports large amounts of products from China that may be contaminated with ASFV, such as animal feed and dietary supplements. The impending risk of ASFV is discussed in an Editorial published in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The Editorial entitled “African Swine Fever Virus: A Call to Action” is written by Stephen Higgs, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases and Director, Biosecurity Research Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS. ASFV infects pigs “and although people are not infected by it, they are certainly affected by it. People can also play an important role in spreading the virus,” says Dr. Higgs.
“The report of ASFV in the consumer port supply in China was “a gamechanger with respect to risk of ASFV introduction into the U.S.,” Dr. Higgs states. “Control is based on effective biosecurity and culling,” however, with a relatively stable virus like ASFV, one inadequately decontaminated truck driving between farms could be all it takes to spread the virus to a remote farm. As a demonstration of how quickly the ASFV situation is developing, since the editorial was released online, ASFV has now been reported in eight Chinese provinces and, independently, virus has somehow been introduced into the wild boar population in Belgium.