Animal Diseases / ASF / BecA / Burundi / Disease Control / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya / Project / Rwanda / Tanzania / Uganda / Vaccines

Devastating African disease of pigs gets new attention and funding

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

African Swine Fever Workshop, July 2011, Nairobi; from left: Raymond Rowland (Kansas State University), David Odongo (ILRI), Richard Bishop (ILRI), Maria-Jesus Munoz (CISA-INIA) and Jose-Manuel Vizcaino (Head of OIE ASF World Reference Centre Madrid) on a visit to the new BecA-ILRI laboratories (photo credit: ILRI/Edward Okoth).

New Agriculturist reported late last year on renewed research effort to tackle African swine fever, a devastating disease of pigs.

‘Causing up to 100 per cent mortality in previously unaffected animals, African Swine Fever (ASF) is a devastating disease of pigs. Endemic across much of Africa, the disease poses a wider threat to global food security, particularly in East Asia, where at least 50 per cent of the protein consumed is pork, much of it produced through small to medium-scale “backyard” enterprises.

‘Current control methods are by diagnosis and slaughter but this approach is difficult, expensive and often not practical for smallholder farmers. To better understand the complexities of the disease, a consortium of research and development organisations from around the world is implementing a range of approaches across Africa.

Whilst there are currently no formal economic estimates of the overall losses to ASF in Africa, an outbreak in Madagascar in 1998 killed half the country’s pig population (250,000 animals). During the last year, ASF outbreaks have also been reported in North Cameroon where over 100,000 animals may have been lost to the disease. In October 2010, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) received notification of the first ASF outbreak in Chad. . . .

‘A new injection of research funding will enable African scientists to obtain in-depth data to provide improved insight into the transmission and spread of ASF between African countries. AusAID is supporting Australia’s national science agency (CSIRO), in developing an institutional partnership with the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) hub.

‘The research team is working to better understand modes of viral transmission, between different geographical regions. . . .

“Collaboration and awareness of biosecurity measures between agencies and across borders is essential since ASF is a transboundary disease,” explains Dr Richard Bishop, project leader. “Through BecA and other mechanisms, we now have national veterinary laboratories increasingly working together across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, to formulate joint control policies, an initiative that is critical to secure East Africa’s smallerholder pig industry,” he adds. . . .’

This work is funded by development partners including the Africa Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal-Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (CISA-INIA Spain), the Food and Agriculture Organization-Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (FAO-ECTAD) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The BecA hub is hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), where the leader of this African swine fever project, Richard Bishop, is a senior scientist.

Read the whole article at New Agriculturist: Renewed research effort to tackle African swine fever, Nov 2011.

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