Nov 13, 2019 -- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Plum Island Animal Disease Center where African Swine Fever (ASF) research is conducted by lead scientist Dr. Manuel Borca, and Senior Scientist Dr. Douglas Gladue, are patent holders of four promising platforms for live-attenuated African swine fever vaccines.
They are working hard to find solutions to contain ASF and prevent its spread if it ever came to the USA, including understanding disease transmission, determinants of virulence and preventive vaccines. The scientists along with their research leader Dr. Luis Rodriguez, work at the Plum Island animal disease center, near Orient Point, NY, a high-security laboratory located off the coast of Long Island in NY operated by the Department of Homeland Security where high-consequence pathogens, not present in the US are studied. Dr. Borca and Dr. Gladue have studied the ASF virus and discovered several viral genes that are necessary for the virus to cause disease. Using advanced genetic engineering to remove these genes from the virus they have created viruses that when inoculated in animals do not cause disease but instead induce protection. Four of these viruses are excellent vaccine candidates that protect 100% of vaccinated animals with a single vaccine shot. Three of these vaccine candidates have been licensed from ARS to vaccine manufacturers for further development, and a fourth platform is currently undergoing licensing. The hope is that at least one of the vaccine candidates will be fully developed and ready to be used as part of a strategy to prevent and controls this devastating disease.
African swine fever virus (ASFV) is a devastating and deadly animal disease that is currently decimating the world’s population of pigs and threatening food security for billions of people worldwide. As its name indicates African swine fever originated in Africa but has affected other regions of the world over the years, including the Iberic peninsula and several countries in the Caribbean, where after decades of work and millions of animals destroyed, the disease was eradicated. Now the disease has escaped Africa again starting in 2007 with an outbreak in the Republic of Georgia that extended to the Caucasus region, parts of Europe, Russia and more recently to China and several countries in South East Asia. There is no vaccine available for ASF and disease outbreaks are currently controlled by on-farm biosecurity measures, animal quarantine, and slaughter.
The USDA Plum Island Animal Disease Center, work to protect against foreign agricultural diseases that could impact the nation's farm economy and export markets... and your food supply. In Addition to ASFV, Plum Island studies foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) and Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Plum Island is located off the northeastern tip of New York's Long Island. USDA activities at Plum Island are carried out by scientists and veterinarians with the department's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). We're equally proud of our safety record. Not once in our nearly 50 years of operation has an animal pathogen escaped from the island. In 2003 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) joined us on the island, taking responsibility for the safety and security of the facility. Staff commute to work on one of two contract ferries from NY and CT.
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USDA Photo by Lance Cheung. Original public domain image from Flickr