Homeland Security Partners with Pork Board to Assess ASF Disinfectants

02:55PM Nov 13, 2019
( Department of Homeland Security )

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Pork Board announced on Wednesday a collaborative agreement to assess potential methods to disinfect and decontaminate surfaces from African swine fever (ASF) virus. 

Scientists will be evaluating commercial disinfectants and methods to decontaminate both porous and non-porous surfaces that are typically associated with swine production facilities at S&T’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), according to a DHS press release.

The research will be conducted through a funded cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between S&T PIADC and the National Pork Board. 

“This important work with the National Pork Board will enhance our resilience against the threat of ASF virus,” said Dr. Larry Barrett, S&T PIADC Laboratory Director.

ASF, a highly contagious virus that impacts swine only and poses no risk to human health or food safety, poses the greatest threat to America’s swine industry, which is currently free of the disease. The U.S. is the largest pork exporter in the world, raising more than 115 million hogs valued at $24 billion annually.

“An outbreak of ASF – and a failure to plan for or manage its spread – would eliminate the domestic pork export market. There is currently no vaccine to protect swine in the event of an ASF outbreak. However, at PIADC we have established an interagency ASF Task Force with DHS S&T, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, to develop vaccines, improved diagnostic tests and disinfectant testing for this emerging disease threat,” said Dr. John Neilan, S&T PIADC Science Director.

ASF has spread to more than 50 countries, including the world’s largest pork-producing country, China. The disease has resulted in a 25% drop in China’s pork production and a 55% decrease in China’s hogs in 2019, according to the release.

“America’s pig farmers continue to invest in seeking ways to keep ASF and other foreign animal diseases out of this country by partnering with groups such as those at Plum Island,” said Dave Pyburn, senior vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board. “We’re committed to doing what’s needed to keep our nation’s pig herd protected and our industry safe from this global threat.”

The CRADA with National Pork Board stems from the ASF Task Force’s work at S&T PIADC and efforts to bring together expertise, resources and capabilities around mitigating the threat posed by accidental or intentional introduction of ASF into the U.S.

For more information, visit https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/plum-island-animal-disease-center.

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