Urgency for vaccine grows as virus ravages China's pigs

ABC News | 8/20/2019 | Staff
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Scientists are working to develop a vaccine to help guard the world's pork supply as a deadly virus ravages Asia's pig herds.

Farmers have long contained its spread by quarantining and killing infected animals, but the disease's devastating march into East Asia is intensifying the search for another solution.

Virus - Priority - Researchers - Year - China

The virus hadn't been considered as high a priority for researchers until it turned up last year in China, home to half the world's pig population, likely by way of Eastern Europe and Russia. Since then, it has spread to other Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan, killing millions of pigs along the way. Though it does not sicken people, the disease is highly contagious and deadly to pigs.

"Today's situation, where you have this global threat, puts a lot more emphasis on this research," said Dr. Luis Rodriguez, who leads the U.S. government lab on foreign animal diseases at Plum Island, New York.

Way - Vaccine - Virus - Animal - Virus

One way to develop a vaccine is to kill a virus before injecting it into an animal. The disabled virus doesn't make the animal sick, but it prompts the immune system to identify the virus and produce antibodies against it. This approach, however, isn't consistently effective with all viruses, including the one that causes African swine fever.

It's why scientists have been working on another type of vaccine, made from a weakened virus rather than a dead one. With African swine fever, the puzzle has been figuring out exactly how to tweak the virus.

Vietnam - Virus - Pigs - Months - Government

In Vietnam, where the virus has killed 3.7 million pigs in six months, the government said this summer it was testing vaccines but provided few details of its program. In China, the government indicated scientists are working on a vaccine that genetically alters the virus, an approach U.S. scientists have been pursuing as well.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ABC News
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