By Jonathan Martin
Spanish scientists have developed an oral vaccine that reportedly immunizes Eurasian wild boars against African swine fever (ASF).
Researchers from the University of Madrid and the Spanish National Institute of Agricultural and Food Technology’s Animal Health Research Centre (CISA) say the vaccine offers 92 per cent protection against one genotype of the virus.
The scientists took 18 unvaccinated female wild boar piglets from a commercial farm in Spain. They administered the trial vaccine to nine and exposed three others to the vaccinated piglets over two weeks to test the vaccine’s transmission rate.
Four other pigs were intramuscularly inoculated with ASF and exposed to the vaccinated boars. The remaining two piglets were exposed to all the groups.
After being exposed to ASF, all but one of the pigs that were vaccinated or exposed to vaccinated swine survived. Moreover, none of them developed any symptoms of ASF infection.
Research into ASF within the wild boar population is an important component of the fight against the disease, Dr. Bob Roland told Farms.com. He’s a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University’s college of veterinary medicine.
“One of the great ASF unknowns is the disease that circulates in wild boar and feral pigs,” he said. “Where’s the virus? How do the pigs interact with domestic populations? What is the transmissibility?”
If ASF manages to make its way into North American swine production and is then eradicated from the domestic pig population, it could still sneak its way back in through wild boar, he said.
“We can’t quantify the risk.”
There is a legacy of wildlife immunization, though.
“This idea of going out and trying to find ways to control wildlife is, in many ways, well-tested,” he said. “We did it with rabies. It’s a logical and doable move. This is just one more tool that we can add to our biosecurity toolkit. We have one more option we can implement.”
Roland told Farms.com that the work the Spanish researchers did is just the latest in a long legacy of vaccine research and he is sure more is to come.