TECHNOLOGY

Another global epidemic is spreading – among pigs


An outbreak of a disease Flowers bloom in China. Exactly how it originated, far from the eyes of any survey scientist, no one can quite explain. It spreads at incredible speeds, kills extensively, disrupts transportation and trade, and causes widespread economic disruption. Hitchhiking on a global trip, it makes the world go round. There is no antidote, and no vaccine. Inevitably, it arrives in America in July 2021.

Yes, 2021. The year is not typo. This outbreak is not cowardly; It is a parallel, hidden epidemic, a deadly animal disease called African swine fever that was caught in the Dominican Republic in July. African swine fever poses no risk to humans, but it is incredibly devastating to cattle: the number of deaths in China was millions of pigs, at least one-fourth এবং and perhaps half of the entire flock of the world’s largest pork producer.

In the United States, animal health authorities are now on high alert. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has promised an emergency allocation of 500 500 million to increase surveillance and prevent the disease from crossing borders. African swine fever is so feared internationally that if it were found in the United States, exports of pork worth more than 7 7 billion a year would be stopped immediately.

“The far-reaching spread of highly contagious and infectious diseases is a bad situation,” Michael Ward, an epidemiologist at the University of Sydney and chair of veterinary public health, told Wired via email. “In agriculture, it is an analogue of Kovid-1.”

Just as there is no vaccine at the beginning of the Kovid epidemic – just like Kovid, there is a glimmer of hope for one, thanks to the basic sciences that have been getting results without getting much attention year after year. Two weeks ago, a multinational team led by scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service announced that they had acquired a vaccine candidate based on a weaker version of the virus, whose original gene had been removed, and demonstrated its effectiveness in field tests, in pigs, in Vietnam. .

The vaccine candidate is being developed by a commercial partner, a Vietnamese company, in a timeline called Navetko, which is not yet clear. This is the fifth experimental vaccine developed by the USDA team. (The first four private companies are developing without further federal involvement.) “As far as we know, we have the most advanced African swine fever vaccine in the commercialization process,” said Douglas Gladdu, a microbiologist and developer.

Going back a bit: African swine fever is a long-standing agricultural enemy. Although it has destroyed China’s pork industry, China is not the origin of the disease. The story of African swine fever actually began in Africa about 100 years ago.

The first account was published in September 1921 by Robert Eustace Montgomery, a Scottish veterinarian working for the British colonial government in East Africa. Be prepared for virtually complete damage, ”he wrote.

A new disease caused by a virus became a regular companion to agriculture in East Africa. Wild swine and warthogs shelter it and periodically spread it to cattle; So are certain species of ticks that eat swine. The symptoms were always the same: pigs would develop a fever, lose their appetite, bleed and break down under their skin and in their internal organs. Whenever an outbreak spreads, it either burns through a herd and kills all the pigs or prevents it when farmers kill their pigs. The first farmers to observe the disease saw nothing but resistance by restricting pigs to free movement and building strong enough fences to keep wild pigs out.



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