New research suggests that a vaccine for African swine fever virus could be available soon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced Sept 30 that a vaccine candidate for the highly contagious hog disease has been shown to prevent and effectively protect European- and Asian-bred swine against the currently circulating Asian strain of the virus.

ARS says its scientists have developed a vaccine candidate with the ability to be commercially produced. Previously, studies were done under lab conditions, but only in European-bred pigs, using an ASFV isolate from the initial outbreak.

“We are excited that our team’s research has resulted in promising vaccine results that are able to be repeated on a commercial level, in different pig breeds, and by using a recent ASFV isolate,” says Douglas Gladue, ARS researcher. “This signals that the live attenuated vaccine candidate could play an important role in controlling the ongoing outbreak threatening the global pork supply.”

Approximately one-third of the vaccinated swine in the study showed the onset of immunity by the second week post-vaccination, with full protection in all swine by the fourth week. Researchers will continue to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine under commercial conditions, closely working with a commercial partner in Vietnam.

To date, ARS has successfully engineered and patented five experimental vaccines and has fully executed seven licences with pharmaceutical companies to develop the ASF vaccines.

The majority of swine used in global food supply are produced in Asia, where the virus has been causing outbreaks and devastating losses to the industry. ASF was originally detected in 2007, in the Republic of Georgia, and is know to cause virulent, deadly disease outbreaks in wild and domesticated swine.

Since the original outbreak, ASF has spread to Eastern Europe and throughout Asia, and most recently has been confirmed in the Dominican Republic.

The virus is unable to transmit from pigs to humans.

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