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The basic facts about African swine fever and how to prevent it

Screen Shot 2021-09-06 at 1.36.27 PM

Source: Prof Mary-Louise Penrith, Porcus July/August 2021, photo credit: Lifeboat Foundation

Since African swine fever (ASF) appeared in China in the second half of 2018 it has become a focus of research as never before. Records show that the number of scientific papers published on ASF rose from 116 in 2019 to 322 in 2020 and 211 have already been published in 2021.

That is a lot of information, and it has added enormously to our knowledge of the molecular genetics of the virus that are helpful in all kinds of ways. If it leads to production of a safe, cheap and highly efficacious vaccine for ASF every pig farmer will rejoice.

A lot of progress has been made, but commercially available vaccines are unlikely to become widely available in the short term, and in the meantime we have to protect our pigs as best we can. This great mass of information has added very little to what we have known since the very first paper on ASF was published a century ago, in 1921.

When it comes to the basic facts about African swine fever, modern research does not contradict what that first researcher discovered, and what all the publications dealing with epidemiology confirm: the three Ps are really all we have to manage: Pigs, Pork, People.
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