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African swine fever Diagnostics, Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control, Workshop Summary

African swine fever Diagnostics, Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control: Identification of Researchable Issues Targeted to the Endemic Areas within sub-Saharan Africa

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

Group photo of the participant of the ASF workshop which was hosted by BecA-ILRI and sponsored by CSIRO-AusAID-Africa Australia Food Security Initiative

Pig Rearing has considerable potential for raising the incomes of resource poor farmers in certain African countries where consumption of pork products is increasing. However quantitative data is required on both pig husbandry systems and barriers to increasing production, including the most important disease constraint, African swine fever (ASF). There is currently no vaccine against the disease and ASF control is by diagnosis and slaughter to eradicate infected animals. The epidemiology of ASF is complex with a sylvatic cycle involving wild pigs, particularly warthogs and soft ticks, and an increasingly important direct route of transmission between domestic pigs. The disease can also be transmitted indirectly via excreta, contaminated pork products and feed. ASF poses a wider threat to global food security, particularly if it reaches China and South East Asia. The 2007 outbreak in the Caucasus and Southern Russia, where the disease has rapidly become endemic and now threatens Eastern Europe, illustrates the plausibility of this scenario.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BECA) are implementing a project entitled ‘Understanding the epidemiology of African swine fever: as a prerequisite for mitigation of disease impact on pig keeping in East Africa’ which is sponsored by CSIRO-AusAID-Africa Australia Food Security Initiative. Under this project a workshop entitled ‘African swine fever Diagnostics, Surveillance, Epidemiology and Control: Identification of Researchable Issues Targeted to the Endemic Areas within sub-Saharan Africa’ was held on 20th and 21st July 2011 to identify research gaps. The workshop participants included representatives from CISA-INIA, Spain (EU diagnostic reference centre); The Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden; The University Complutense Madrid (OIE ASF World Reference Centre); Institute for Animal Health (IAH) Pirbright UK (OIE ASF World Reference Centre); The Australian Animal Health laboratory (AAHL), Geelong and CSIRO, Australia: Kansas State University, USA; Texas A and M University, USA; Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Kenya: Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Uganda (MAAIF); Nairobi University Kenya; Makerere University Uganda; BecA; ILRI; FAO and AU-IBAR.

The workshop presenters reviewed global importance of ASF, virus biology, control, serological and nucleic acid-based diagnostic techniques, epidemiology, host responses and vaccinology. Reviews of ASF epidemiology, surveillance and control in Kenya, Uganda, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and Cameroon were also presented. Key presentations shared experiences from past disease control and eradication successes especially in the Iberian Peninsula and South America. The output of the workshop was the identification of research gaps in epidemiology, vaccine development, surveillance and disease control. Major area identified that would benefit from further research included:

  • Data on outbreak sources and disease dynamics
  • Optimized methods of communication of information relating to disease risk and control to farmers in the endemic regions
  • Methods for motivation of farmers to engage in disease control practices-linked to the communication issue-including participatory approaches
  • A more rapid feedback mechanism for dissemination of information from central veterinary laboratories to District Veterinary Officers in affected areas
  • Integration of veterinary department policies with farmer goals in pig husbandry
  • More resources for the Department of Veterinary Services to implement
  • Detailed information on socioeconomic impact of disease in ASF endemic areas, including all elements within the value chain
  • Biological and socioeconomic models of disease transmission for prediction of the impact of control measures
  • Data on the interface of host and viral genomics in Africa
  • Data on domestic pig host genetics and transcriptional responses to infection in Africa
  • Data on host responses to infection and vaccination in the pigs from the indigenous regions
  • Understanding of mechanisms of immunity induced by live attenuated vaccines and the mechanisms underpinning cross protection groups which do not correlate
  • More extensive and concerted application of modern approaches for vaccine development, formulation and delivery through a consortium of interested researchers.
  • Creation of standardized experimental challenge models and pig challenge facilities within the endemic area to support vaccine developme

Specific interventions in each case were discussed. The workshop participants suggested the need for the initiation of a global initiative to control ASF. The need for enhanced collaboration between researchers, African governments and development partners, focused on ASF control, was endorsed. Future funding options for research and development were discussed and will be pursued with donors.

ASF Workshop Pictures Review

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

From left: Drs Linda Dixon (ASF Group Leader OIE World Reference Centre, IAH Pirbright, UK) and Wilna Vosloo (AAHL-CSIRO) Australia getting the feel of a smallholder pig farm in Central Kenya, on the day before the workshop. Dr Mululu (District Veterinary Officer) explains the operations of a typical small pig farming operation

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

Dr Mululu and Dr Dixon and listening keenly to a farmer briefing at a piggery in Limuru, Central Kenya

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

2nd from right, Jose Manuel Vizcaino inspects the laboratory waste treatment plant at the new BecA-ILRI Level 3 laboratory. Explaining the operation of the system is Timothy Kingori senior assistant to the laboratory manager, 2nd from left. Looking on is Richard Bishop and Maria Jesus Munoz on the extreme right and left respectively

African Swine Fever workshop, July 2011, Nairobi

From left: Drs. Raymond Rowland (Kansas State University), David Odongo (ILRI), Richard Bishop (ILRI), Maria-Jesus Munoz (CISA-INIA) and Jose-Manuel Vizcaino (Head of OIE ASF World Reference Centre Madrid) on a visit to the new BecA-ILRI laboratories

Click here to view the ASF workshop presentations

For more information about this workshop, write to Richard Bishop (r.bishop(at)cgiar.org) or Edward Okoth (E.okoth(at)cgiar.org)

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