A study conducted by veterinary researchers at Kansas State University sheds new light on African swine fever.

The research team, headed by Megan Niederwerder, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, looks at the degradation of African swine fever virus in animal feed ingredients to understand the potential for disease spread through contaminated feed.

Niederwerder’s latest study, “Half-Life of African Swine Fever Virus in Shipped Feed,” was published online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

It provides more accurate half-life measurements that confirm the virus can survive a simulated 30-day transoceanic voyage in contaminated plant-based feed.

Detailed analysis shows that the half-life of African swine fever virus in feed ranges from 9.6 to 14.2 days after exposure to varying temperature and humidity conditions simulating shipment across oceans. This means it would take approximately two weeks for the total viable virus concentration to decay by half its original count under the conditions of a transatlantic voyage.

If the virus can survive shipments overseas, this provides an opportunity to infect swine in the United States and other countries through imported feed, which would be devastating to U.S. pork production.

“African swine fever virus ... threatens pork production and human food security worldwide,” Niederwerder said.

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