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January 01, 2020

In Short

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Deadly swine disease spreads in Asia

African swine fever reached at least 10 more countries in Asia during 2019, and unconfirmed reports implicate the virus in deaths from one more.

The ASF virus is hardy and deadly. Outbreaks can kill entire herds of domestic swine.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) officials reported in September 2019 that the ASF crisis was destabilizing the world market for pork products. By early November, at least 23 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe were dealing with new or ongoing outbreaks.

Authorities in China reported their country’s first outbreaks in August 2018. Subsequent reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicate that, since January 2019, animal health authorities confirmed infections in the following countries, in this order: Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, Laos, the Philippines, Myanmar, South Korea, and Timor-Leste. FAO officials cited news reports from November that indicate about 5,800 pigs died in 11 regions of Indonesia and people found more pig carcasses in a river and a lake, but the causes of death were unknown.

Dr. Mark Schipp, president of the OIE, said in late October about one-quarter of the world’s pigs may die because of ASF, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Researchers work to better understand PRRS virus

A grant of nearly $3 million is helping researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and collaborators at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute investigate how porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus evolves and spreads.

PRRS virus costs the U.S. swine industry more than $560 million each year. Since its emergence in the United States during the late 1980s, scientists have worked to reduce its impact.

Awarded in September 2019, the grant is supporting research intended to help scientists and producers anticipate a herd’s susceptibility to different strains of PRRS virus and customize mitigation efforts accordingly. The data generated could also be used to inform future vaccine designs.

“Studying PRRS virus’s evolution will help us better understand and hopefully control PRRS virus, but it will also help us understand the evolution and drivers of genetic diversity in viruses in humans and other animals,” said Kim VanderWaal, PhD, principal investigator on the project and an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine at the veterinary college.

Education council schedules site visits

The AVMA Council on Education has scheduled site visits to nine schools and colleges of veterinary medicine for 2020.

Comprehensive site visits are planned for the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Feb. 9-13; the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, March 29-April 2; the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, April 26-May 1; the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, May 17-21; the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Veterinary School, Aug. 9-14; Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Sept. 13-17; The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Oct. 18-22; the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, Oct. 31-Nov. 6; and the University College Dublin School of Veterinary Medicine, Nov. 15-19.

The council welcomes written comments on these plans or the programs to be evaluated. Comments should be addressed to Dr. Karen Martens Brandt, Director, Education and Research Division, AVMA, 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173. Comments must be signed by the person submitting them to be considered. 

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