OIE starts global push to address ASF

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic
© GettyImages/dusanpetkovic

Related tags: ASF, biosecurity

In an effort to help address the spread of the African Swine Fever, OIE is starting a global program to control disease spread, eradication and related economic loss.

The World Organization for Animal Health announced Tuesday [May 28] during its general session that it was launching a global initiative to focus on controlling African Swine Fever (ASF). The organization presented a report​ on the disease and members of the OIE passed a resolution regarding the effort on Thursday.

“The response to the global threat must involve coordinated actions by international organizations, research and scientific institutions, development partners, pig and meat producers, governmental agencies and other stakeholders to prevent further spread of this virus,” ​the OIE said in the report. “It must ensure the wellbeing of farmers and poverty reduction, protect animal welfare, prevent disastrous economic loses, and allow further contribution of the pig sector to global health, wealth, equity and sustainability.”

The OIE is set to work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the project.

In a recent report on the spread of the disease, 1,322 ongoing outbreaks and 157 new outbreaks were reported, the OIE said. About 53% of swine losses occurred in Asia although some were also reported in Ukraine and South Africa.

OIE and FAO have been working together on the Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) since 2004, said Matthew Stone, deputy director general with OIE. The organization has had several regional priorities related to the disease and provided workshops to encourage preparedness in Asia.

“Now with the outbreak in China since August and the subsequence spread in the region and the fact that we now have a significant and growing problem in the Asian region and growing concerns from our members in the Americas focused on prevention and preparedness, it feels like now we need all countries to treat African Swine Fever as a high priority,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “That has been the thrust of what we’ve done in this general session.”

“The direction that we’ve got provides a strong framework for the FAO and OIE to really come together and make the African Swine Fever a priority,”​ he added.

Another element clarified by the session was that countries cannot wait for a vaccine to be developed, said Stone. However, there are steps that countries can take including strengthening biosecurity practices from the farm to national levels and addressing biosecurity practices with feed.

“We know what needs to be done in many countries and particularly countries that are challenged by the capacity of veterinary services,” ​he said. “But we should be under no illusion that there’s a magic bullet coming – there are good research initiatives underway, but we can’t wait, we need to act now.”

ASF response

Previously, the organization had regional priorities regarding ASF in Africa and in Europe.

“Since 2014 there’s been a strong and focused initiative in Europe following the [disease’s] entry into Europe,”​ Stone said.  

The project also established expectations for members of the organization related to policy, early warning systems and efforts to stop the illegal movement of meat and meat products, he said.

Controlling the disease is a priority for countries both that have had outbreaks of the disease and that do not have the disease, the organization said.

Member countries are being asked to take several steps including: establishing programs for the prevention, early detection and intervention; addressing biosecurity, following pig movement, developing “official monitoring;”​ controlling wild swine populations; providing training and awareness; addressing animal slaughter and carcass disposal and to improve communication between countries and stakeholders.

Among the steps to be taken by OIE as part of the new initiative will be supporting the expansion of laboratory access and work on biosecurity, Stone said. The effort also will look at areas that protected by good security practices as a way of protecting trade in swine genetics and meat or meat products.

“We are collaborating with our regions to pull together experts in those regions and translate international standards to local use,”​ he said.

In areas experiencing a high rate of disease outbreaks, work also is needed to improve the processes involved in humane slaughter, disposal and disinfection practices, he said.

Biosecurity and feed

There also is a role for the feed industry in the effort to address ASF, especially in terms of risk management related to feed and ingredient transportation, said Stone.

“The industry has a variety of manufacturing methodologies with biosecurity risk management considerations – [like] movement of feed on and off property in terms of the biosecurity of vehicle movement,”​ he said.

Every part of the value chain needs to be assessed for how it relates to biosecurity, he said. This is especially important in regions with environmental contaminants like large wild pig populations or high rates of disease outbreaks.

“Members will have strong memories of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in North America and the way that practices in the feed industry [like] the plasma coating in pelleted feed were implicated as a potential spread mechanism,” ​he said. “We know that there’s an ongoing search for innovation in all industries and animal feed included, but really need to think about biosecurity and biosecurity risk management within the drive for innovation.”

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