News By/Courtesy: Aakash Raj | 22 Jan 2021 16:10pm IST


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China’s New Swine Fever: A Result of Unlicensed Vaccine? In Chinese pig farms, a new form of African swine fever is most likely caused by illicit vaccinations, industry experts warn, a fresh blow to the world's biggest pork producer which is barely recovering from a crippling virus epidemic. On many farms owned by New Hope Liuhe, China's fourth-largest producer, two new strains of African swine fever have infected more than 1,000 sows, as well as pigs being fattened for the firm by contract farmers, said Yan Zhichun, chief science officer of the group. While the strains that lack one or two main genes in the wild African swine fever virus do not kill pigs, such as the disease that destroyed Chinese farms in 2018 and 2019, they cause a chronic illness that decreases the number of healthy piglets born, Yan told Reuters. To deter the outbreak, infected pigs are culled at New Hope and several major farmers, rendering the disease essentially lethal. Although the identified pathogens are now small, if the strains spread widely, the world's top buyer and producer could cut pork production; two years ago, half of China's 400 million-head pig herd was wiped out by swine fever. Wayne Johnson, a veterinarian based in Beijing, said he last year diagnosed pigs with a chronic or less-lethal form of the disease. Certain genetic factors, known as the MGF360 genes, were absent in the virus. New Hope has identified strains of the virus that lack both the genes MGF360 and CD2v, Yan said. A study has shown that it provides immunity by removing certain MGF360 genes from African swine fever. But since it appeared to later mutate back to a dangerous state, the transformed virus was not developed into a vaccine. Via infected feed, the new strains could proliferate worldwide, infecting pigs that are fed on kitchen waste. In certain pork goods, the virus is known to survive for months. Two requests for comment were not received by China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. In August, as part of a nationwide inquiry into illegal vaccine use, the ministry announced it would screen pigs for multiple strains of the virus. Any strains with gene deletions may suggest a vaccine has been used, it said. So far, no findings on the topic have been released, which is highly sensitive for Beijing. Reports of new cases of African swine fever have been thoroughly covered up. Researchers across the globe are focused on live-virus vaccines after decades of testing to develop a vaccine against the massive, complicated swine fever virus - the only kind that has shown much promise. But such vaccines pose greater risks, and they will also restore their virulence even though the virus is weakened so that it does not cause severe disease. In the 1960s, one such vaccine used in Spain induced a persistent illness in pigs with swollen joints, skin lesions and respiratory problems, which hindered attempts over the next three decades to eliminate African swine fever. A vaccination for the disease has not been accepted by any nation since then. Yan said he suspects that the sequences of virus strains being researched that have been published in the scientific literature have been replicated by people and that pigs injected with illegal vaccines based on them could infect others. The new swine fever strains have not been completely sequenced by either Johnson or Yan. Beijing specifically monitors who is permitted to work with the virus, which can only be treated in laboratories with high designations for biosecurity. But a number of private firms have produced test kits that can search for particular genes. The government has not said how commonly used or who has developed illegal vaccines are. Yet, Johnson added, a substantial number of pigs in China were nonetheless vaccinated, a sentiment shared by several other experts. 


This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being.

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 23 Jan 2021 8:40am IST

Tags : #SwineFeverChina

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