Researcher Studies African Swine Fever at Kansas State University

By: Bryanna Cook
AgView.net Fall Intern, Kansas State University


African swine fever is a virus that affects pigs in parts of Africa. The virus is mostly seen in Africa and has not been in the United States. Because it has not reached the U.S., we refer to it as a foreign animal disease. Raymond Rowland, Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at Kansas State University, has been researching vaccines to treat African swine fever.

African swine fever can be found in domestic pigs and in wild boars. The pigs that are affected are known to hemorrhage. Farmers usually notice that their animals have a loss of appetite, fever, depression, heavy breathing and more.

"It has a tremendous economic impact for many African countries. Especially those that grow pigs. So they see it as an endemic disease which has a very high mortality. And we also say has a high morbidity, which translates into a high economic cost," said Rowland.Rowland has been researching African swine fever at the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) at Kansas State University. With the research that Rowland is doing at the BRI and the National Biosecurity and Agro Defense Facility being built on campus, there is hope that these two institutions will collaborate their research in order to help treat African swine fever.

"I think what makes our research special, is one aspect of it is the fact that we have been looking for vaccines for ASF for 60 years, we don't have one," said Rowland. It may take some time to find a vaccine, but they are still trying to find other ways to treat African swine fever.Rowland has been working in the area of genetics for two reasons; to see if the pigs can be more resistant and genetic modification to make the pigs more resistant to African swine fever.

With time, we may see a vaccine or improvement in genetics for African swine fever. But
for now we rely on people like Rowland to keep researching this deadly virus.

Photo: courtesy Kansas State Research & Extension


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