Protecting Against African Swine Fever Virus Breaching Our US Borders

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Nature of the disease

African Swine Fever virus is a highly contagious deadly disease found in domestic and wild pigs that exhibits virulence between strains and is resilient to physical and chemical inactivation. The causative agent of ASFv is a unique, enveloped, double-stranded DNA arbovirus which is the sole member of the family Asfarviridae. ASFv is a very resilient virus that can withstand low temperatures, fl uctuations in pH from 3.9 pH to 11.5 pH and remain viable for long periods in blood, feces, tissues and bodily fluids. At the recent Allen D. Leman Swine Conference (September 2018 USA), Dr. C. Ora commented, that with more than 20 genotypes, many proteins – 60 to 180 (encoded) this is a highly complex virus. With the robust nature of the complex, multi-layered enveloped virus comes a far wider range of pH stability than with other enveloped viruses. In fact the pH range stability resembles behavior of non-enveloped viruses creating a strength of ASFv which makes developing a vaccine or treatment quite difficult. Additionally, although progress to date has been made on a vaccine the traditional approach to making a vaccine with dead virus is extremely difficult because ASFv produces additional proteins not present in the dead virus, which the host immune system is not able to recognize when exposed to the live virus. Because of these attributes, the primary control and eradication strategy is stamping-out. Stamping-out is the depopulation of clinically affected swine and, as appropriate, swine that are considered to be exposed to the virus. Finally, in planning, there is another good rule that should be adhered to at all times; never share anything between positive or negative units, be it via transport, personnel or equipment.

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