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SHIC/FFAR Collaboration Seeks Japanese Encephalitis Virus Research Proposals

Manhattan, KS (February 12, 2024) – The Swine Health Information Center and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) have partnered to fund a $1 million research program to enhance US prevention, preparedness, and response capabilities for Japanese encephalitis virus, a transboundary disease risk for US introduction.

SHIC’s strategic mission to identify risks to swine health includes global and domestic disease monitoring to maintain an acute awareness of emerging swine diseases around the world. Japanese encephalitis is an emerging zoonotic disease identified through global monitoring as a priority for North American prevention and preparedness activities. JEV is transmitted through the bite of infected Culex mosquitoes and biosecurity practices focused on mosquito control are key to reducing risk. The US is currently negative for this mosquito-borne virus which has waterbirds as a natural reservoir but is capable of infecting pigs, humans, and horses.

In 2022, an outbreak of JEV genotype IV spread rapidly across new geographic regions of Australia affecting breeding swine herds and causing reproductive failure, delayed farrowing, stillbirths, mummified fetuses, abortions, and weak piglets. This recent incursion of a new JEV genotype into areas previously free from disease warrants the need for a close investigation of this virus and its potential for incursion and establishment in the US. Understanding the potential impacts of JEV on pork production in the US is critical to protecting the health of the US swine herd as well as mitigating the risk of this emerging disease.

In response to this emerging disease, SHIC and FFAR have partnered to invite proposal submissions from qualified researchers for funding consideration to address identified research priorities for JEV, including topic areas of 1) transmission and epidemiology, 2) mosquito control, 3) diagnostics, 4) communication, 5) surveillance, 6) compatible cases, 7) challenge models, 8) vaccines, 9) cross-protection, 10) competent vectors, 11) role of wildlife, 12) novel hosts, and 13) viral sequencing. Proposal information and a detailed list of research priorities can be found here.

Proposals should clearly state which of the identified SHIC/FFAR JEV research priorities will be addressed through the project. Collaborative projects that include the pork industry, international organizations, allied industry, academic institutions, and/or public/private partnerships are highly encouraged. Projects demonstrating the most urgent, timely completion, providing the greatest value to pork producers, and showing efficient use of funds will be prioritized for funding. Projects are requested to be completed within a 12-to-18-month period with sufficient justification required for extended project duration. The JEV research proposal template can be found here.

Total funding available for the SHIC/FFAR JEV Research Priorities is $1 million. Individual awards are capped at $250,000 but proposals may exceed the cap if sufficient justification is provided. Matching funds are encouraged but not required; the $250,000 cap applies to only those funds requested from SHIC/FFAR. All projects should strive to be unique, have a high impact, show value to pork producers, and have industry-wide benefit.

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