By Justin Walker
Communications Specialist

Government officials recently met in Canada this week to discuss an international containment effort of African swine fever (ASF).

Leaders from more than 14 countries attended the forum from April 30 to May 1. What was originally intended to be a North American partnership gained attention and engagement from several other nations.

Every continent other than Africa and Antarctica was represented at the forum, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Greg Ibach said. Even international organizations such as World Organisation for Animal Health attended.

“African swine fever poses a huge risk to our swine industry,” Ibach said. “Not only would it be economically damaging from the spread of the disease, but it also would disrupt our trade.”

The U.S., Canada and Mexico previously announced a joint-effort to prevent the spread of ASF into the countries. That partnership is expected to continue following the forum.

“We have worked together in the past on some exercising and exchange of information,” Ibach said.

A future project for the partnership may include a vaccine for ASF. No vaccine currently exists, Ibach said, but scientists are working toward a breakthrough.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would lead the way on that venture, he said.

“On some diagnostics and oral fluids test, we are very closely coordinating with Canada,” Ibach said. “A vaccine is something we hope to have a breakthrough on.”

ASF has spread throughout China, resulting in an increase in demand for U.S. pork. As trade talks continue between the two countries, Ibach expects those trends to continue.

Click here for more information on ASF.