Meat & Livestock News

USDA Research Redefines African Swine Fever Strains, Aiding Vaccine Development

In a significant development in veterinary science, the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has streamlined the classification of African swine fever (ASF) virus genotypes from 25 to just six. This breakthrough has the potential to enhance the development of targeted vaccines for the disease.

ARS senior scientist, Douglas Gladue, explained that upon reassessing the DNA sequences of the virus available publicly, the research team found that the diversity of ASF virus genotypes is less than previously understood.

This revelation is pivotal as it suggests the potential need for fewer vaccines to combat the different ASF virus strains globally.

The process leading to this new understanding involved a meticulous analysis of over 12,000 virus isolates, both historical and current, by ARS researchers. This endeavour utilised the computational capabilities of SciNet, ARS’s supercomputer cluster, which is dedicated to resolving complex data problems in agriculture.

While the United States remains free of ASF, the virus has traversed from Africa to various parts of the world, causing significant economic damage to the swine industry. It was first reported in the Republic of Georgia in 2007, subsequently spreading through Europe, the Dominican Republic, Asia, and arriving in South Africa in early 2023. The reclassification of ASF genotypes marks a hopeful stride towards mitigating the global impact of the disease.