Ibach: African Swine Fever vaccine will take 8 years
Scientists have concluded that a vaccine for African swine fever is eight years away, Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said today.
“We are eight years from finding a vaccine that is effective,” Ibach said at a House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on animal pest disease prevention and response capabilities.
Ibach made the statement in response to a question from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who asked about current research on African Swine Fever and other animal diseases.
Ibach said that USDA is also working with Canada on research on how to detect the disease and on biosecurity measures.
Peterson noted that one problem with the high path avian influenza that affected poultry in his district a few years ago was that workers for several plants were staying in the same hotel and the disease spread among them.
The swine industry is very aware of the experience with high path avian influenza, Ibach said.
USDA is working closely with counterparts in Mexico and Canada to control African Swine Fever, which has not yet been found in North America, Ibach said.
Canada has about the same level of animal disease protection as the United States, but U.S. officials are not “as familiar” with the level of protection in Mexico, Ibach said.
If African swine fever should be detected in North America, USDA would consult with the governments of Mexico and Canada before deciding what animal movements need to be limited, Ibach said.
Asked about imports of organic feed from China, where African Swine Fever is prevalent, Ibach said that imports of feed from China have gone down but that “shutting down imports of feed would hurt the swine industry.”
Asked about President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, Ibach said the cut was proposed to make sure there is enough money for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF under construction in Kansas. But Ibach added “We do not take lightly the importance of the lab network.”
In response to a question from House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, about the scarcity of livestock veterinarians, Ibach said he believes that vet schools need to reassess their admissions procedures and take into effect the applicants who are most likely to be willing to be out on the ranch in all weather may not be the same as those who “will score perfect in organic chemistry.”