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First stage of tests of African swine fever vaccine successfully completed

December 12, 2013, 20:56 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The vaccine survived, the pigs are feeling well, scientists say

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MOSCOW, December 12 /ITAR-TASS/. The first stage of tests of an African swine fever (ASF) vaccine, which is being developed by the All-Russia Research Institute of Veterinary Virology and Microbiology, Pokrov, Vladimir region, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been successfully completed. Their final results will be announced in late December, Professor Denis Kolbasov, director of the Russian institute, told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

“The first stage of tests began in November, when pigs were given an injection of a protective preparation,” he said. “Later, some period of time was needed to the antibodies to survive and work out protection against an ASF challenge. It can be said already now that the first stage of tests was successful, the vaccine survived, the pigs are feeling well.”

Stage two is planned to be kicked off on Friday, December 13. “After December 25-26, a group of researchers will sum up the results of the tests and we will know for sure whether we are going in the right direction,” Kolbasov noted.

“Specialists from practically all world countries have been working on an ASF vaccine for the past 40 years,” he said. “The problem is that their resources, especially material, are limited. So, it was decided to pool efforts in a global alliance to study the ASF virus biology and develop means and methods of its control. The pool includes Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Spain, Germany and a number of African countries.”

The All-Russia Research Institute of Veterinary Virology and Microbiology has been awarded a Russian government’s prize for the successful completion of the first stage of ASF vaccine tests.

As of today, African swine fever has spread practically across the entire European Russia. Pig breeding is on the brink of a total collapse in some of Russian regions. The worst situation is in the Tver and adjacent regions, and in the Voronezh region. The pig breeding sector is sustaining colossal losses. In this connection, Russia’s federal service for veterinary and phytosanitary control (Rosselkhoznadzor) said a federal-level programme was needed to remedy the situation. Apart from that, “clear veterinary laws are needed, since measures taken in individual regions are not enough,” Rosselkhoznadzor specialists said.

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious notifiable disease of pigs caused by a virus. The disease may occur in acute, sub-acute or chronic forms. The acute form causes severe disease from which the majority of affected pigs die. African swine fever can be spread through direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids; indirect contact via fomites such as equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity; pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products; biological vectors - ticks of the species Ornithodoros. There is no vaccine against African swine fever, which can be stopped from spreading only through culling infected animals. The first African swine fever outbreak was registered in South Africa in 1903.

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