TECHNOLOGY

Another global pandemic spreads among pigs


disease outbreak flowers in china How exactly it appears, far from the eyes of any observing scientist, no one can fully explain. It spreads incredibly quickly, kills in large areas, freezes transportation and trade, and causes widespread economic disruption. Hiking world travel, going around the world. There is no cure or vaccine. Definitely coming to the Americas in July 2021.

Yes, 2021. The year is not a typo. This outbreak is not covid. It is a hidden parallel pandemic, a deadly animal disease called African swine fever has been discovered In the Dominican Republic in July. African swine fever poses no danger to humans, but it is incredibly devastating to livestock: those deaths in China were in the millions of pigs, at least a quarter of them – and maybe halfThe whole herd of the world’s largest pork producer.

In the United States, animal health authorities are now on high alert. The US Department of Agriculture has pledged to emergency allowances $500 million to ramp up surveillance and prevent disease from crossing the border. African swine fever is so feared internationally that if it was found in the United States, pork exports would be worth More than 7 billion dollars General – will be closed immediately.

“Long-range spread across borders of highly contagious and pathogenic diseases is a worst-case scenario,” Michael Ward, an epidemiologist and chair of veterinary public health at the University of Sydney, told WIRED by email. “In agriculture, it’s the analogue of Covid-19.”

As with the Covid pandemic in its infancy, there is no vaccine – but as with Covid, there is a glimmer of hope for one, thanks to basic science that has laid the results for years without getting much attention. Two weeks ago, a multinational team led by scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service announced that they had done so Achieved vaccine candidate, based on a weakened version of the virus with a key gene deleted, and proven effective in a field trial, in pigs, in Vietnam.

The candidate vaccine is being developed by a business partner, a Vietnamese company called Navetco, in a time frame that is not yet clear. it’s the Fifth experimental vaccine Developed by the USDA team. (The first four are being developed by private companies without further federal involvement.) “As far as we know, we have the most advanced African swine fever vaccine in the process of commercialization,” says Douglas Gladio, a microbiologist who is one of the developers.

Let’s go back a bit: African swine fever is an ancient agricultural enemy. Although it devastated China’s pork industry, China is not the original home of the disease. The story of African swine fever really began in Africa, almost exactly 100 years ago.

A Scottish veterinarian named Robert Eustace Montgomery, who was working for the British colonial government in East Africa, published his first description, in September 1921. Montgomery reported an outbreak of a hemorrhagic disease in farm pigs that was too devastating “on the owner… Be prepared for practically complete loss “.

The new disease, caused by a virus, has become a regular companion to farming in East Africa. They are sheltered by wild boars and pigs and periodically spread to livestock; So do certain types of ticks that feed on pigs. The symptoms were always the same: pigs could have a fever, lose their appetite, have bleeding under their skin and in their internal organs, and collapse. Whenever an outbreak breaks out, it either burns among a herd and kills all the pigs or is put out when farmers slaughter their pigs to prevent it. The first farmers to notice the disease found that nothing could stop it but to keep the pigs confined rather than let them roam free, and to build fences strong enough to keep out wild boars.



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