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US makes progress in ASF prevention strategy

The Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center says since receiving notice that African swine fever had been confirmed in China, there has tremendous progress in the United States in both prevention and preparedness.

17 July 2019, at 11:25am

Since 3 August, 2018, when African swine fever was officially confirmed in China, it's continued to move through Asia and southeast Asia and is now causing lots of losses in Vietnam, it's shown up in Laos and it continues to spread in wild boar in eastern Europe.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Paul Sundberg, the Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center, says the US Department of Agriculture, state animal health officials and industry working together have done a tremendous job in both prevention and preparedness.

"One great example is that, when that notice came through, the only tissue that could be officially tested in veterinary diagnostic labs in the US for African swine fever was whole blood," explains Dr Sundberg.

"We talked to the USDA about that right away and one of the things that they've done is they've helped open up the list of tissues that can be used for official tests to better match the submissions that would be coming into the diagnostic labs.

"For example, they now approve the testing of tonsil, they approve the testing of lymph nodes and they approve the testing of spleen. Those are big steps.

"That led to then the implementation of a national African swine fever along with Classical swine fever surveillance programme.

"Now we have a surveillance programme that is designed to detect the first infection as quickly as we can and diagnose it so we can make an effective and rapid response."

Dr Sundberg says there's lots of things that are going on in prevention but this issue of testing and implementing a national surveillance programme is key and USDA has done a great job making that happen.