Over the past few months, I’ve been doing my best to study diligently for the NAVLE exam. Using a study program has been the best preparation method for me and I’ve been skimming through dozens of questions a day. Throughout my study there have been multiple questions about diseases that either have been eradicated from the US or are epidemic in other parts of the world. I have a tendency to roll my eyes at these questions and view them as unimportant to my future practice. That was until I stumbled across this article the other day: China Races to Corral a Deadly Outbreak of African Swine Fever
African Swine Fever is a question that repeatedly pops up during my NAVLE study. The disease is endemic to Africa, but has now started to make its way through China. Swine are a vital protein source in China with pork being the most consumed meat in the country. While the disease doesn’t pose a direct human threat, the effects of the disease on the swine population could be devastating. Certain African Swine Fever strains can have up to a 100% mortality rate, and without an effective treatment or vaccine, the damage done to the swine industry may be catastrophic.
The Chinese swine industry makes up half of the world’s population of swine with over 500 million animals. The impacts of the disease could devastate the industry, the livelihood of the swine farmers, and the economy as a whole. This disease has a much larger impact on China, and the world, than just causing losses. Even the U.N. has been cautioning the Chinese government about the potential impact of the disease.
This virus is new to China and therefore Chinese farmers are not prepared to tackle it. The Chinese government is working diligently to cull infected animals, educate farmers, and prevent the spread of the infection. This is a difficult task due to the resistant nature of the virus and it’s ability to be spread by various sources, including trucks, feed, and people. And with humans being a common vector of disease transmission, it is likely that the disease could be spread between continents.
This is the perfect example of how an international issue becomes a world wide concern, proving that it is important to view veterinary medicine at a global scale. We need to keep One Health in perspective and be sure to consider what is happening globally, not just what is happening in our backyards.