New African swine fever strain circulating around the world

African swine fever is a highly contagious, deadly disease in pigs for which there is no cure. The virus has been moving around the world but fortunately so far hasn’t made it to the United States.

Paul Sundberg is a veterinarian and the executive director of the Swine Health Information Center. He says there are many different genotypes of the disease and the one that’s circulating around the world right now is known as “genotype 2”. 

“Genotype 1” has been in Africa for a long time and was eliminated in Eastern Europe about 40 years ago. But “genotype 1” has resurfaced. It’s been found in China.

"But the issue with finding it now and the concern is that genotype 1 is less pathogenic. That means it doesn’t make the pigs sick like genotype 2 does," says Sundberg. "It still can make them sick, but not anything with the severity of the one that’s circulating around the world." 

So why is this important to note? Because it’s harder to detect in pigs. It can hide itself in the herds, it looks a lot like other diseases, and will be able to spread farther. 

"And that increases the risks to the U.S, North America, other ASF-free countries because of the possibility of this virus starting to move around too," he says. "That is an issue because the international markets, international community, doesn’t care if you’ve got genotype 1 or genotype 2, you’ve got African Swine Fever and will have the same issues no matter what genotype we get."