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Increasing biosecurity measures to prevent African Swine Fever

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African Swine Fever (ASF) continues its spread overseas, reaching new herds rapidly. The virus has yet to reach the United States. 

A veterinarian updates us on where American producers stand, in terms of preparedness. He also shares how producers can further protect and secure their swine operations.

United States pork producers continue to improve foreign animal disease (FAD) prevention and preparedness efforts. However, Dr. Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board, would like to see further improvement, as the “risk of African Swine Fever is ever increasing.”

“We see more countries declaring positive for African Swine Fever. We see more territories in positive countries expanding into infected territories. We have more areas and farms. That all leads to an increased risk to our industry in the United States,” Pyburn said. “We have to do everything we can biosecurity wise to make sure we don’t end up with African Swine Fever, which we have never had in this country.”

A vaccine for African Swine Fever does not exist, so “all we can do is prevent it.” Dr. Pyburn says the best way to prevent this highly contagious viral disease is through “top-notch biosecurity.”

“The number one thing is biosecurity, which is a huge part of the Secure Pork Supply Program. You need to get your farm Secure Pork Supply Ready,” Pyburn said. “Get a premise ID. Get a biosecurity plan in place, enact the biosecurity plan and abide by it every day. Train people on the biosecurity plan. (Then) follow up and make sure that when biosecurity is broken, you fix what occurred, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Dr. Pyburn says “We have not seen a major breakthrough on a commercial vaccine yet.” He says that with “a grain of salt,” as researchers at the Department of Agriculture’s – Agricultural Research Service (ARS) made promising strides on a vaccine candidate.

“Dr. Gladue and Dr. Borca, with ARS, may have found a gene-edited candidate for a vaccine. It’s early, (as) it’s in lab testing right now. In that lab testing, not only did this vaccine prevent clinical signs and infected animals, it also prevented shedding, which is extremely important because we don’t want to have animals shedding this and carrying this virus further into our herds,” Pyburn said.

For tips on how to implement biosecurity measures on your operation, visit www.securepork.org.

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