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UMN, international partners fight swine disease, strengthen trade

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Technical assistance efforts also reduce the risk of African swine fever spreading to the United States and other countries not yet affected.

Infectious diseases are an ongoing concern for the global swine industry, and a team of University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine researchers have received funding to develop training and resources to combat disease and build response capacity abroad. Delegates from the Philippines and Vietnam recently visited the UMN to participate in training exercises designed to combat swine disease and guide decision-making and policies relating to the swine industry. 

The visit is part of a project funded by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, which awarded approximately $500,000 through its 2022 Emerging Markets Program to a team led by Andres M. Perez, director of the UMN Center for Animal Health and Food Safety and the Endowed Chair in Global Animal Health And Food Safety at CVM. 

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey welcomed the delegates and acknowledged the significance of the state's work in agriculture and impact on local and global economies. Optimistic about the future of the partnerships, Perez said, "Supporting the control of devastating transboundary animal diseases such as African swine fever in developing countries, we promote the implementation of the global food security agenda and the development of people and countries, while learning important lessons to protect our own industry."

The project, "Capacity building in risk assessment to support safe international trade of U.S. pork products in the Philippines," is a collaboration that includes CAHFS, the National Pork Producers Council, the MDA and government and agricultural partners in Vietnam and the Philippines.

On a global scale, Vietnam and the Philippines have been particularly hard hit by ASF. The UMN project recently funded by the FAS Emerging Markets Program allows government and agricultural partners in these countries to identify their specific needs in the fight against ASF and other swine diseases, and to partner with a CAHFS-led team to develop and deliver training to combat the disease. 

Key participants in each country attended the University of Minnesota workshop as part of a series of in-person workshops and online coursework aimed at building advanced veterinary competencies that strengthen local detection and disease control efforts by using biosecurity and containment strategies. Additionally, participants received training on how to apply risk assessment tools to support the implementation of international trade standards.

The goodwill effort by CAHFS and NPPC to provide technical assistance in response to the ASF outbreak by partnering with local stakeholders in the Philippines and Vietnam mitigates the disease impact on their domestic swine industry and helps to establish the United States as a reliable partner. These efforts also reduce the risk of disease spread to the United States and other countries not yet affected. For the U.S. pork industry, a world leader in exports, promoting regulatory frameworks and procedures to establish evidence-based policies for livestock and agricultural production that support trade are critical to developing regional economies and ensuring an adequate supply of swine products to meet world needs.

Infectious diseases threaten the stability and productivity of the global swine industry. Recently, ASF, a viral disease affecting nearly one in five countries globally, has been spreading throughout Asia — a major pig producer with more than 50% of the world's pig population. Affecting pork prices and food security around the world, ASF results in severe economic loss in pig production with supply shortages and increased demand. 

ASF cannot spread from pigs to humans, but the very contagious and deadly virus infects both domestic and wild pigs and has no known treatment — though vaccine development efforts are underway.  Causing death rates up to 100% in affected pigs, symptoms of ASF include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, high temperature, reddening of the skin, respiratory distress, loss of appetite and weakness. 

While the United States has not experienced a case of ASF, an outbreak would devastate the pork industry and international cooperation is essential to combat the spread and eradicate the disease in countries around the world. One study conducted by Iowa State University in 2020 estimates the cost of an ASF outbreak in the U.S. over 10 years could approach $50 billion. Efforts by the UMN CAHFS and local partners including the NPPC and the MDA, in collaboration with partners from the Philippines and Vietnam, promise to reduce risk and improve food security, development, and trade opportunities for the international swine industry.

Source: University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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