African Swine Fever

August 6, 2019

2nd Scientific Conference and Workshop: Beijing, August 6/7 2019

Purpose of the conference is to give an actualized overview on the situation regarding ASF worldwide and specifically in China. Basis is solid verified scientific facts, which will be presented by acknowledged international subject matter experts. Participants of the conference will be given the necessary information to judge the status in China in an objective, fact-based way, and learn about applications of commensurate measures. The day after the conference, a separate closed workshop has been organized for a smaller group of participants who are involved in gaining control of the epidemic. It will be possible to have direct and confidential discussions with the experts on individual questions and needs, and work on solutions.

Conference Summary:

China’s battle against African swine fever continues – 2nd TAFS Scientific Conference on African Swine Fever in China.

On August 6-7, 2019, TAFS held the second TAFS meeting on African Swine Fever in Beijing, China. The meeting was attended by over 160 Chinese and international scientists and industry professionals.

Amidst ongoing impacts of African Swine fever on the world pork production, TAFS fulfilled the need for continued education and exchange on topics related to the disease. The 2nd TAFS ASF conference built on and extended the information provided in the 1st conference with up-to-date information around the current situation of ASF. The meeting aimed at giving participants the necessary information to judge the status in China in an objective, fact-based way, and learn about applications of appropriate measures.

The TAFS team had put together an agenda that covered all aspects of African swine fever, including biosecurity along the pork value chain, ASF eradication and control, how to use diagnostics for the detection of the virus, as well as the latest update on vaccine development. With speakers including José Sanchez-Vizcaino of the OIE Reference Laboratory for ASF in Spain, Vincent Martin, FAO Representative in China and DPR Korea, Dirk Pfeiffer, D.U. Chair Professor of One Health, City University of Hong Kong and Wu Xiaodong, Head of China Animal Health & Epidemiology Center (CAHEC). Ulrich Kihm, president of TAFS hosted the meeting.

Kristine Lamberga, deputy CVO Latvia, presented firsthand information of her country’s experience with managing ASF outbreaks at a farm and regional level. She also discussed measures to take after an outbreak to start build up a farm again after an outbreak.

Especially well received was the invitation-only ASF workshop on the day after the conference organized by Patrik Buholzer of SAFOSO. In a mixture of short presentations from the international expert team and breakout sessions, groups were working on a specific scenario in the context of their actual, individual situation.

Scenarios discussed during the workshop:

  1. Prevention of ASF infection on farm
  2. Control of ASF in an infected farm
  3. Recovery phase and restocking
  4. Feed, with special focus on swill-feeding

The meeting was organized by TAFS and IQC (International quality consulting) with support from CAVA, Thermo Fisher Scientific, CAHG and Ecolab.

Participants to the conference said in an interview [link to article English translation] that they had received important information they can now implement in their work situation.

Dr. Yan Zhinong, Executive Director of the Wal-Mart Food Safety Collaboration Center, said that African swine fever is a matter of great concern to the government, enterprises and retailers. With the situation of foreign outbreaks and the cases of various countries, and their experiences can be used for reference in China. Through this study, he will also pass on scientific and objective information to consumers.

Dr. Chen Xiwen, a senior veterinarian from Sichuan Tielu Lishi Pig Industry Division, said that the impact of the African swine fever epidemic on the farmers is huge. The pressure on the first-line breeders is very high. It is good to learn from many other countries by attending this meeting.

Dr. Qi Yan, deputy general manager of China Mobile Industry Group Co., Ltd., remarked that the data and analysis of this meeting have important guiding significance for the prevention and control of Chinese African swine fever.

In a survey after the event, participants expressed a favourable opinion of the meeting, 92% of respondents said they would attend a future TAFS Scientific Conference on ASF or other related activities.

Further reading: Conference profile

Video interviews with speakers

Ulrich Kihm

José Sanchez Vizcaino

Dirk Pfeiffer

Kristine Lamberga

March 26, 2019

1st Scientific Conference: Beijing, March 26 2019

The TAFS forum held a technical conference on African Swine Fever (ASF) in Beijing, China, on March 26th 2019 in collaboration with IQC International and Lyja Media. The presentations of this conference (English and Chinese) may be downloaded here (presenters' permission given). They shall not be modifid or amended.

Conference Summary

More than 110 participants attended the TAFS Forum African Swine Fever (ASF) Scientific Conference held in Beijing on March 26. The conference was organized in collaboration with IQC International and Lyja Media and sponsored by TAFS member Thermo Fisher Scientific.

“African Swine Fever poses a big threat to China and Asia”, said Prof. Ulrich Kihm, president of TAFS. “It has an enormous economic impact and causes a food security scare in the region. That is why it was so important to share the most up to date information by organizing this technical conference about ASF in China.”

Using the established TAFS approach, the conference aimed at analysing the situation by providing knowledge about ASF, enabling a dialogue and creating an action plan. To this end, African swine fever experts were invited to share their knowledge and discuss actions in a panel discussion, together with Chinese African Swine fever experts.

Prof. Dirk Pfeiffer, D.U. Chair Professor of One Health, City University of Hong Kong discussed epidemiology of African swine fever. He showed how ASFV spread dynamics vary between countries due to differences in pig production systems and pork value chains. He explained the need to understand the pork value chain. Low biosecurity farms and trade between such farms, which is poorly regulated and extremely complex, are thought to pose the highest risks for virus spread. But large farms are infected as well and should not be ignored. Prevention and control policies need to be tailored to characteristics of national and sub-national pork value chains. Once ASFV is endemic in domestic pigs, the introduction into wild boar population (if present) is difficult to prevent. Prof. Pfeiffer underlined the requirement of support from the pork industry for effective control.

The role of wild boar in ASF transmission and spread was discussed by Dr. Klaus Robert Depner, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), Germany. He talked about the different ASF transmission cycles.

Although ASF is often described as a contagious disease, the virus does not spread that easily from animal to animal. ASF is not so much a contagious disease, but more a deadly disease.

The stability of the virus in contributes to its successful spread. ASF virus survives the process of putrefaction, and swine carcasses may remain infectious for weeks. The virus stays indefinitely stable in frozen meat, survives in dry meat and fat for almost one year and for more than 3 months in blood, salted meat and offal. Even in faeces the virus is infectious for over a week.

Because of the stability of the virus in carcasses, passive surveillance for wild boars is a good strategy according to Dr. Depner. One carcass can infect many animals and should be removed to avoid virus spread.

He also mentioned biosecurity as a potent tool to control ASF. ASF is a human driven disease. Because of the worldwide trade with pork, pork products and pig feed, humans have greatly contributed to the spread of the virus.

According to the presentation by Dr. José Sanchez-Vizcaino of the OIE Reference Laboratory for ASF in Spain, ASF virus has an extremely complex molecular structure and genetic variability, making ASF one of the most complex disease to deal with. The virus particle contains more than 150 proteins with at least 50 proteins located in the viral particle structure. So far, 24 genotypes of the African swine fever virus have been identified. The virus does not induce neutralizing antibodies in its host, but is highly immunogenic, making effective vaccines against the virus extremely difficult to develop.

The major ASF control challenge is that there is no vaccine available and no treatment of infected animals, therefore the focus should be on avoiding of the entry of the virus. Dr. Sanchez stressed that extra biosecurity is essential, including controlling vehicle movement on-farm with fencing and every single item and person that enters the farm property should be considered concerning cleanliness.

Once the virus has entered a fast response is needed to avoid spread of the disease. Healthy-looking animals can contain high levels of virus, thus diagnostic tests are necessary to identify them. Laboratory detection gives a result within 4-12 hrs, whereas field detection takes 1-4 months. Dr. Sanchez showed that the diagnostic tools are available to detect the ASFV circulating in the field.

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