May 22, 2023


Indonesia creates blood serum for pigs to gain temporary ASF immunity




Indonesia is developing a blood serum which can provide temporary immunity among pigs against African swine fever (ASF) after containing an outbreak of the disease in the country's biggest pig farm.


The farm, located on a 1,500ha island called Pulau Bulan in Indonesia's Riau Islands province, is capable of exporting around 240,000 pigs a year to Singapore, according to data from the Riau Islands Agriculture Agency.


Exports from the island constitute about 15% of the city-state's total pork supply.


The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said on Apr 20 that pig carcasses originating from the farm were found to be infected with ASF, prompting Singapore to stop importing live pigs from Pulau Bulan.


Dr. Honismandri, head of the Riau Islands veterinary authority, which monitors animal health in the province, said Indonesian officials were subsequently deployed and confirmed that the virus had spread to much of the farm.


"The situation right now is under control. There are no more deaths. Only survivors," he told CNA on May 17.


Dr. Honismandri said that of the more than 200,000 pigs that were on Pulau Bulan, 35,000 died from the disease. Workers also culled 119,000 pigs which shared the same compartments - or living quarters - as the symptomatic pigs.


Of the remaining 50,000 pigs, two thirds showed signs of contracting the virus but have since recovered.


Dr. Honismandri said officials are trying to produce convalescent serums from the blood of the surviving pigs. Convalescent serums are blood serums containing antibodies which can provide short-term immunity against infection.


The serum is being developed at a government facility in Surabaya, Indonesia's second biggest city and the capital of East Java province.


Dr. Honismandri added that the same facility has already developed serums from infected pigs in other parts of Indonesia. However, the virus infecting the pigs on Pulau Bulan appeared to have a specific genetic strain not found in previous cases of ASF in the country.


Developing a serum from the blood of surviving pigs on Pulau Bulan will ensure the serum's effectiveness against this particular strain of the ASF virus, Dr Honismandri noted.


"It will take two to three months until a product is ready. That is the estimate. After that we can begin inoculating (the pigs)," he said. "We are also exploring potential vaccines. Some countries are developing potential vaccines for African swine fever. If one is proven to be effective, we will be working to get our hands on some to be used on Pulau Bulan."


- Channel NewsAsia

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