Pig Farmers to Immunise Animals Against African Swine Fever – Expert

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Dr Olufunke Oluwole, a pig geneticist at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Ibadan, has advised pig farmers to immunise the animals against the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) currently ravaging pig farms.

Oluwole gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on Friday.

She said the ASFV had no vaccine while the current control methods were by diagnosis, bio-security and slaughter, adding that recent research indicated that immunity to the disease existed.

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The pig geneticist advised farmers to keep all immunised survived pigs during the infections and use them for breeding as they would pass the immunity to their offsprings.

“Recently, the virus has spread all over the nation and has been a burden for researchers all over the country.

“A renowned institute researcher got an outstanding breakthrough where eight genes from the virus genome were placed into the pig cells to produce a viral protein that primed pig immune system infections.

“This causes the pigs to display some clinical signs of the ASFV but survived it. This vectored vaccine will bring us one step closer to safeguarding our pigs’ health and global food security,” Oluwole said.

According to her, African Swine Fever (ASF) is caused by a virus called African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) from the family of virus called Asfarviridae; meaning that it does not cause harm to humans or other animals.

Oluwole said that ASF was commonly carried by arthropods such as the soft-bodied tick, through the uptake of blood from infected pigs.

She said that it could be endemic across much of Africa; posed a wider threat to global food security, where at least 50 per cent of the protein consumed was pork.

“In February, there was recurrence outbreak of the disease in Lagos, where over 3,000 farms were infected and 300,000 pigs were lost.

“ASF causes devastating losses to the meat/protein supply of a country and inflicts huge economic losses. It caused seven million losses of pigs in 2019 because there was no proper vaccine to cure them.

“The common symptoms are high fever, loss of appetite, depression, vomiting/diarrhoea with bloody discharge, unsteadiness of the animal when standing, heavy discharge from eyes or nose.

“Others are nose, ears, tail, lower legs can become blue-purple colour, discrete haemorrhages appear on the ears and planks, abnormal breathing, coughing/laboured breathing, among other symptoms,” Oluwole said.

She said that the disease was easily transmitted among pigs through contacts with infected pigs, saliva, infected faeces and droppings from any part of the infected pigs.

“It could be transmitted from infected products such as raw meat or uncooked infected products from the sewage. That’s why farmers should not give raw materials to their pigs.

“Infected nursing mothers can also transmit it to their piglets through breastfeeding. They can also be transmitted from fomites such as clothes, boots from farm attendants and feed mills,” Oluwole said.

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