ASF Vaccine

african swine fever vaccine

The mortality rate for African swine fever in pigs can be as high as 100 percent and at the current time there is no way to prevent it, no way to treat it. The enormous economic impact of ASF is pushing many laboratories, institutions and researchers to work hard on a vaccine.

Why is so difficult to find an African Swine Fever vaccine?

But considering the current technology and expertise they have why can’t researchers figure out a way to make a vaccine to stop the highly contagious animal disease?

African swine fever now confirmed to be in South Korea despite the best efforts of local authorities causes hemorrhagic fever and kills almost every pig that contracts it.

There have been cases of pigs dying as quickly as one week after becoming infected; but despite the devastating nature of the disease there is no known treatment or vaccine on the market but given the technology available to modern science why is that the case?

One consideration experts make is when compared to other viruses, the African swine fever virus is large in structure. Viruses like the ASF contains several genotypes which means there are numerous types of proteins that the virus can produce in the animal’s body. These proteins act as a defensive shield for the virus which makes it extremely complex to fight.

It doesn’t mutate often, however, because the DNA structure of the virus is so complex, it produces a variety of antigens it is difficult for the animals immunity systems to fight back.

ASF versus Foot and Mounth Desease FMD

Compared to the foot-and-mouth disease which can produce more than ten types of proteins, African swine fever can produce more than 200.

Also aside from the recent outbreaks in Europe and in China, the virus mainly affected the African continent in the past which could explain why well-funded research institutes in the West and Asia have focused their efforts elsewhere.

Currently work on a vaccine is being expedited in the US, China and Europe but experts warn that even if a vaccine can be formulated it would take some time for it to be approved and going to mass production. Researchers also caution that because African swine fever is capable of destroying immune cells, any vaccine that could be developed might not be 100% effective.