ASF North America: high alert while vaccine progress continues

ASF North America
Photo: Canva

Leaders in Canada, the US and Mexico remain on high alert to prevent entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) into North America, as vaccine advances continue worldwide.

The disease continues to plague many countries around the world, including Russia. 14 countries in Europe recorded commercial farm ASF outbreaks in 2023. This is the worst result since 2014, according to the latest annual report of the European Food Safety Authority.

Industry Preparedness Programmes

Canada’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food has just announced an investment of up to $9.6 million CAD to fund 29 ‘ASF Industry Preparedness Programme’ projects across 7 provinces. The Canadian Pork Council considers this “crucial and innovative.” Council Chair René Roy stated that the programme’s “proactive approach, underscores our commitment to invest in advanced technologies, rigorous training and collaborative partnerships to fortify our defenses against ASF and other potential threats.”


South of the border, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has hosted 3 North American ASF Forums, but no forum is planned for 2024. In October, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hosted its third annual ‘ASF Action Week,’ intended to highlight vigilance for detection of ASF symptoms. The Service also offers a dedicated Protect Our Pigs website.

Models and plans

Should ASF arrive in the US, researchers from North Carolina State University hope to provide insight on its spread and how best to contain it using a model called PigSpread. Meanwhile, enrollment is growing in the US Swine Health Improvement Plan (US SHIP), a national certification programme for safeguarding and protecting swine health. The National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council, American Association of Swine Veterinarians and others endorse US SHIP. It is expected to become an official USDA programme by 2024. At about 3 quarters of the US breeding pig and growing pig herds is already enrolled.

ASF vaccine updates

On 23 May, an ASF vaccine entered the third and final stage of trials in the Philippines, where there have been strong calls for vaccine development. The Agriculture Undersecretary also said that the government is examining vaccine distribution and subsidised pricing for farmers.

China has already developed an ASF vaccine candidate, and Vietnam has already commercialised a vaccine. However, pig farmers in Vietnam have concerns over using this vaccine, including concerns over effectiveness, limited distribution, the safety of mass vaccinations, and more.

On May 20, the identification in Uganda of a new pig cell line was announced for growing ASF viruses. The researchers explain that that “one of the challenges to ASF vaccine development is having a cell line that will provide commercial utility for vaccine production.” A European project called ‘“Vax4ASF will also develop an ASF vaccine.


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Treena Hein Correspondent