OTTAWA – As African Swine Fever continued to track across Asia — North Korea recently reported that country’s first detection of the disease — more than 150 delegates representing 15 countries wrapped up a two-day forum aimed at enhancing international collaboration against the deadly swine disease.

Canada hosted the forum in Ottawa from April 30 to May 1. Canada and the United States collaborated on the event, which was supported by Mexico, the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health, provincial, territorial and state partners in addition to agriculture industry partners.

“Over the course of the last two days, we have worked with colleagues from around the globe at the Forum to address the risk of ASF, a serious animal disease currently impacting swine herds in Europe and Asia,” Dr. Jaspinder Komal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for Canada, said in a statement.

“Jointly, we have developed a framework that will support ongoing international collaboration and action in the areas of preparedness planning, enhanced biosecurity, business continuity, and coordinated risk communications,” he said.

The framework addresses four key areas:

  • A high state of readiness to swiftly control ASF should it enter the Americas region
  • Strengthening biosecurity measures to prevent the entry of ASF and mitigate its spread
  • Establishing agreements in the swine sector to mitigate the trade impacts of ASF
  • Effective communications to best inform Canadians and our neighboring countries about the risk of ASF

Komal added that several key partnerships and governance options were identified that will advance the implementation of the framework at the regional, or the Americas level, as well as at the sub-regional and national levels.

“The forum is not the end of our work together, as we have found areas where more exploration is needed,” Komal noted. “But our discussions have set us up to take this important work further. Over the next day, conversations continue at the World Organization of Animal Health’s (OIE) 25th Conference of the Regional Commission of the Americas which will also be held here in Ottawa.

“Additionally, the developed framework will add to the discussions about the advancement of a global strategy on ASF happening in May at the 87th OIE General Session and with the Chief Veterinary Officers of the G7.”

ASF already is taking a toll on China’s swineherd, and casualties are expected to increase. In a recent report titled “Rising African Swine Fever Losses to Lift All Protein Boats” Rabobank senior analyst Christine McCracken wrote that Chinese pork production losses will be greater than initial estimates — from 25 percent to 35 percent — while extreme losses of more than 50 percent will be limited to confined areas.

Canada and the US have increased funding for dogs trained to sniff out illegally imported meat in addition to other measures. And the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) canceled the World Pork Expo 2019 “out of an abundance of caution” citing the spread of ASF in China and other parts of Asia.

“Given that the Americas are currently free of ASF,” Komal said, “we have an opportunity now to continue to act decisively and collaboratively to increase awareness around ASF, fill in gaps that have been identified, and proactively negotiate partnerships and agreements to aid in our approach to the disease.”