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Chinese Finds Milder Variants of African Swine Fever
USAgNet - 02/26/2021

New variants of the African swine fever virus circulating in China appear to cause a milder form of the disease, making it less deadly but harder to detect and to bring under control, a study published this week showed.

According to Reuters, the paper by a team at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences is the second this month to report on natural mutations in the virus which ravaged China's pig herd during 2018 and 2019 and continues to kill pigs in the world's biggest pork producer.

The first study from the Military Veterinary Institute in Changchun reported finding a virus that had a partial deletion of genes, previously shown to protect pigs against the African swine fever (ASF) when deleted. However that study did not investigate the virulence of the variant.

The new findings come from sampling from seven provinces during the second half of last year. The team found 22 isolates with mutations, and they later tested four of those for virulence in pigs.

Two isolates were just as lethal as the earliest virus circulating in China. But two showed lower virulence with symptoms varying from partially lethal to non-lethal depending on the dose given to pigs.

Some analysts estimate about 20% of sows in northern China have been impacted by the disease this winter.

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