Weekly livestock news: December 11, 2023

World animal health body warns of ASF vaccine risks

The World Organization for Animal Health is warning that more testing of African swine fever vaccines is needed, triggered by Vietnam’s plans to export doses in coming months, Reuters reports. WOAH says AVAC Vietnam JSC, the producer of one of the two vaccines, has not shared sufficient data with international researchers and bodies. Gregorio Torres, head of the science department at WOAH, urged countries interested in using AVAC’s vaccines to conduct their own trials before approving it. In July, Vietnam authorized two attenuated live-virus vaccines against the disease. In October, as AVAC was about to announce deals with importers of its vaccine in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Myanmar, WOAH warned of risks from use of sub-standard vaccines. AVAC has said its vaccine is not dangerous.

Anitoa launches ‘all-in-one’ swine flu test

Anitoa Systems LLC, a biotechnology company, has announced worldwide availability of its “all-in-one” swine flu test for live stocks. Included in the test kit is an Anitoa’s Maverick portable qPCR instrument, lyophilized swine flu test qPCR reagent and a one-time-use sample collection tube with pre-filled lysis buffer solution. According to the announcement, the kit delivers consistent, accurate results at the point-of-care for medium- and small-size farms with limited access to centralized lab tests. Anitoa’s swine flu test kit is expected to be available for sampling in the fourth quarter of 2023, and the company expects to ship the product in volume in 2024.

Illinois governor signs bill to ensure veterinarians can continue writing prescriptions after rule change

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that includes a stopgap provision addressing veterinarians’ ability to write prescriptions. The measure comes after a previous law required prescriptions to be submitted electronically by January 2024. Most doctor’s offices have software that communicates with retail pharmacies, meaning sending prescriptions electronically is the norm. However, most veterinarians send handwritten prescriptions, fax and call pharmacies. “Veterinarians were not going to be able to access filling prescriptions the way they had traditionally done because there was no platform to communicate between a veterinarian and a pharmacy,” Tasha Bunting, director of commodity programs and food systems for Illinois Farm Bureau, told FarmWeek. While the legislation is geared more toward pets, it does have implications for livestock producers who rely on retail pharmacies for prescriptions.

Global dairy companies join alliance to cut methane

Six of the world’s largest dairy companies will soon begin disclosing their methane emissions as part of a new global alliance launched at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai, Reuters reports. Livestock is responsible for about 30% of global anthropogenic methane emissions, from sources like manure and cow burps, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Advocacy groups have said that tackling livestock methane should be a major priority at this year’s COP28 summit. The six members of the Dairy Methane Action Alliance—Danone, Bel Group, General Mills, Lactalis USA, Kraft Heinz and Nestle—will  begin reporting their methane emissions by mid-2024 and will write methane action plans by the end of that year.

Humans can infect pigs with deadly disease, researchers warn

Streptococcus zooepidemicus, a newly emerged infection in pigs that results in sudden death, was the focus of a recent Swine Health Information Center and American Association of Swine Veterinarians webinar. Dr. Matheus Costa, an assistant professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor at Utrecht University, warned that humans harboring the bacteria that causes Streptococcus zooepidemicus could trigger an outbreak in pigs. He said researchers assessed staff who worked in Strep zooepidemicus-positive barns to determine whether humans are capable of carrying the infection. According to Costa, there was barn staff that were extensively exposed to infected animals during an initial Strep zooepidemicus outbreak several years ago. An individual transited to three different sites over three years and all three sites that this individual went to had Streptococcus zooepidemicus outbreaks. Swineweb reports.

TunR2, a compound meant to kill pathogens, appears to be safe for cattle: researchers

Neil Price, a research chemist at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, has studied a chemical compound known as tunicamycin. Produced by soil microbes, it is normally very effective at killing pathogens, but it tends to also be toxic to animals. Together with Mike Jackson, a research chemist at NCAUR, Price chemically modified tunicamycin to create a related compound, called TunR2. The modified compound showed promising initial lab results, suggesting the toxic trait had been eliminated. Price has continued to test TunR2 to ensure it is safe for animals. In a recent test on Holstein cattle infected with Johne’s Disease, the researchers found that while TunR2 didn’t cure the disease, the infected cattle weren’t harmed when treated with the compound.