African swine fever continues to spread
July 15, 2019 - Scientists are racing to develop a vaccine for African swine fever before the virus spreads across the world. The disease, harmless to humans but deadly to pigs, has already devastated China’s pork industry.
African swine fever (ASF) is fatal and spreads quickly among pigs. It is believed to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa, spreading to Europe and Russia before reaching China – the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork – where it has spread like wildfire.
ASF has infected pig herds in Vietnam, Mongolia, North Korea, Cambodia and Laos, and outbreaks have surfaced in parts of Europe, where the virus maintains a stronghold in wild boar populations.
The disease is transmitted either via direct animal contact or via dissemination of contaminated food. No vaccine exists and efforts to develop one have been hindered by the complex nature of the virus.
Even with recent announcements of progress by researchers in China, Vietnam and the United States, a commercially-available vaccine is likely to be years away.
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