FFAR Combats Deadly, Costly Swine Viruses in Contaminated Feed

PIPESTONE and WASHINGTON (July 2, 2019) –The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research awarded a Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) grant to Pipestone Applied Research to halt the spread of deadly and costly swine viruses in animal feed by adding mitigants, additives that deactivate the viruses, directly to animal feed.

Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus and Seneca Valley A (SVA) are deadly swine diseases that can spread through contaminated animal feed. Swine producers have had difficulty protecting their herds from these viruses. This research can reduce the spread of these viruses and may be relevant to preventing the introduction other viruses, such as African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV), to a herd.

PRRS, the most economically devastating disease affecting U.S. swine production today, has infected up to 50 percent of the national sow herd in recent years. It currently costs U.S. farmers over $560 million annually. PED arrived in the U.S. in 2013, infecting and killing a full 10 percent of the pig crop. With no treatment or cure for PED, the mortality rate can reach 100 percent in piglets. Lastly, pork producers nationwide have been battling an outbreak of SVA, a relative of Food and Mouth Disease, since 2015.

The research team is testing 10 commercially available disease mitigants, or feed additives, to assess whether these mitigants can deactivate PRRS, PED and SVA. The mitigants are added to feed containing the viruses and then fed to pigs in a commercial setting, to replicate on-farm conditions, although none of these animals enter the food supply.

“Pipestone Applied Research’s initiative to provide production-driven research to producers is already generating promising research for farmers and the pork industry,” stated Dr. Scott Dee, Research Director at Pipestone Applied Research. “FFAR’s ROAR grant enables us to test additional mitigants in feed, which we are finding have a significant impact on reducing the spread of viruses. This breakthrough has the potential to improve animal welfare and ultimately lessen the financial sting of these devastating diseases.”

“This research is a significant breakthrough in stemming the spread of deadly viruses in contaminated feed. It could revolutionize the way we control animal viruses, protecting pigs from deadly illness and saving pork producers millions in annual financial losses,” said FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey. “The added benefit of this research is that it might also be applicable to other viruses, such as African Swine Fever.”

Pipestone researchers and collaborators are planning a second phase of this research to identify mitigants that could potentially deactivate ASFV, which devastated the Chinese pork industry and has recently been detected in Europe. ASFV is easy to transmit, difficult to destroy and there is no treatment or cure. Recent research has shown that ASFV can cross continents in contaminated feed ingredients. The second phase of the project, which FFAR is also funding, will test the mitigants ability to deactivate ASFV in a biocontainment facility at Kansas State University.

This research is funded through FFAR’s ROAR program, which rapidly funds research and outreach in response to emerging or unanticipated threats to the nation’s food supply or agricultural systems.

This ROAR grant is co-funded by ADM Animal Nutrition, Anitox, Kemin Industries, PMI Nutrition Additives and Swine Health Information Center.

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Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.

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CONTACT: Sarah Goldberg, 202.624.0704, sgoldberg@foundationfar.org