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New Collaboration Aims to Develop Rapid ASF Test

by 5m Editor
9 June 2010, at 9:22am

GLOBAL - An institute belonging to the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and ARC Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute of South Africa are working on a joint project to speed up and simplify testing for African swine fever (ASF).


African swine fever (ASF) is a severe viral disease of domestic pigs which causes the death of almost all infected pigs. The disease is present in Africa, Sardinia and the southern Russian Federation and Caucasus region from where it could potentially spread to the high pig producing regions of South-east Asia and China and also into the European Union.

A smallholder in the Democratic Republic of the Congo transporting a pig to market
Photo: Leopold Mulumba-Mfumu

ASF has a devastating economic impact in affected countries and limits pig production in Africa depriving the local communities of a cheap, high quality, source of protein. Currently there is no vaccine against ASF and the only way to control the disease is through quarantine and slaughter of infected animals. However, many outbreaks, especially in Africa go undiagnosed as the facilities for diagnosis are not available locally or even nationally, in some cases samples are sent to overseas reference laboratories.

Researchers from the UK and South Africa aim to identify the different proteins exposed on the surface of the virus and use this knowledge to develop rapid diagnostic tests which can be carried out in the field, such as a dip-stick where blood is dropped on one end and if the virus is present a positive band will appear at the other end.

Over the next three years, the researchers also plan to identify virus proteins that can be used to produce vaccines by studying the surface proteins on the virus and how they aid the virus entering into the cells of the animal.

Collaborations on the project are the UK's Institute for Animal Health and ARC Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on swine fevers by clicking here.

5m Editor