USA, Ames, Ia. The pork industry organizations have developed a list of actions that could help prevent and then, if needed, respond to an African swine fever (ASF) incursion. They have been shared with USDA; collaborative work and further discussion about them is ongoing. Prevention initiatives are prioritized because of urgency above response initiatives.
The industry organizations and USDA agree that prevention could be enhanced by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) ensuring flights from China and Russia get enhanced passenger and cargo inspection attention. USDA has made a request to that effect to CBP. Sampling and monitoring of imported products that might pose a risk of ASF transmission is also being considered.
Collaboration can help to address concerns about potential risk associated with feed and feed component imports. Certain feedstuffs are able to support ASF during a simulated trans-Pacific shipment. A validated method to test bulk feed products and applying it to monitoring shipments for pathogen contamination has been funded by SHIC and is currently being researched.
The USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health’s Risk Identification Unit (RIU) is monitoring diseases around the world, including China. Increased, regular communication through contact or reports is another action that could enhance prevention through raising awareness.
The inspection and compliance processes for imported pork casings and other food products is another topic of discussion. While USDA does not allow the import of casings originating in ASF positive regions, the risk of US origin casings that have been sorted in China and returned to the US is being considered. Evaluation of all imports coming from China to assess their potential to be used in the pork supply chain is underway. An updated risk assessment for ASF entry into the US from China, including prioritizing risk from those products identified needs to be developed.
Response initiatives include a survey of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) for their surge capacity should the industry need ASF testing to identify issues or shortcomings. USDA is already conducting the survey.
A project to validate a PCR test for ASF – and foot and mouth disease (FMD) and classical swine fever (CSF) – on oral fluids has been underway for over a year. Only whole blood is currently validated for ASF surveillance via PCR testing. Diagnostic capabilities need to be updated. And response capability needs to be able to be applied at the herd level.
ASF-specific emergency response exercises are being planned, including allied industry, NAHLN and state and federal animal health official’s participation. And response and communication coordination with Canada and Mexico are additional items being discussed and have already been initiated by USDA.
ASF control in China will be extremely difficult, if even possible. The Chinese pork industry has had difficulties in controlling FMD and CSF and has relied heavily on the use of vaccines. As a vaccine is not available for ASF, the industry is thus reliant on heightened biosecurity, rapid diagnosis, complete isolation, and then elimination of infected pigs and contaminated materials. US plans for prevention and response have to be considered to be long-term adjustments to the biosecurity of our national herd.