African Swine Fever is a big story already because, when and if it spreads to all of Western Europe and all of Asia, it will cause the collapse of a major portion of the agricultural export economies of the affected countries. We're talking about many billions of dollars of losses. And the problem is not temporary because those countries will be suspected of harboring the disease in their wild boar and ticks for decades to come. The disease could easily become endemic. But the issue is so much more important because of the disturbing body of evidence that shows that African Swine Fever Virus can infect humans (despite what authorities currently insist). Thus far, Europe's leading publications and journalists have failed to warn the public of the impending ASFV risk to their health. Here are the biggest African Swine Fever stories they have missed.
1. The African Swine Fever Vaccine for humans.
"African Swine fever is an endemic disease in sub-Saharan Africa and many other parts of the developing world. It is caused by the African Swine virus that primarily replicates in macrophages and monocytes leading to the impairment of the structure and function of the immune system of the infected organisms. Until now the African Swine epidemic continues to spread despite all efforts to contain it. Thus, there is an objective need for effective, safe and affordable preventive and therapeutic approaches, in particular for effective vaccines, to control and eventually eradicate this disease. Since the characteristic feature of the African Swine virus is to impair the immune system and to cause immune deficiencies in its hosts the development of vaccines and other therapeutic approaches against the African Swine virus has implications for other immune deficiencies or diseases. Several other viruses are also known to cause immunodeficiency-like syndromes in humans, including cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr Virus and others. Moreover, a series of cases of so-called "idiopathic" immunodeficiencies have been documented that display CD4+T-lymphocytopenia with opportunistic infections, but show no evidence of HIV infection. Since antibodies for the African Swine virus have been detected in humans, the possibility of human infection with the African Swine virus exists and may thus far have escaped any systematic screening. Thus, any preventive and therapeutic approach to African Swine fever can have far-reaching implications to control immune deficiency conditions in humans."http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20080207875
2. Evidence of African Swine Fever found in people with fevers.
"The African swine fever (ASF) virus, may in the future become dangerous for humans, according to the head of the Russian Epidemiology Service, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Gennady Onishchenko, at the press-conference in St. Petersburg. According to him almost all viruses from time to time go through mutation processes which can give them some additional functions."
Loh J, Zhao G, Presti RM, Holtz LR, Finkbeiner SR, Droit L, Villasana Z, Todd C, Pipas JM, Calgua B, Girones R, Wang D, Virgin HW.
Departments of Pathology & Immunology and Molecular Microbiology, Department of Medicine and Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
"The family Asfarviridae contains only a single virus species, African swine fever virus (ASFV). ASFV is a viral agent with significant economic impact due to its devastating effects on populations of domesticated pigs during outbreaks, but has not been reported to infect humans. We report here the discovery of novel viral sequences in human serum and sewage which are clearly related to the Asfarvirus family, but highly divergent from ASFV. Detection of these sequences suggests that greater genetic diversity may exist among Asfarviruses than previously thought, and raises the possibility that human infection by Asfarviruses may occur."
Two months later, Gallo published an article in Science (Oct 31, 1986) that he discovered a new possible co-factor in AIDS, a virus he called Human B Cell Lymphotropic Virus which he named HBLV. Like ASFV, HBLV infected B cells and also lived in macrophages. Did Gallo steal Beldekas’s ASF virus he found in AIDS patients and rename it HBLV? Later on, when Gallo found that HBLV could also infect other immune cells, he changed the name of HBLV to HHV-6. Eventually, Gallo identified his HBLV as the variant A strain of HHV-6 and called it a human herpesvirus."
The world's highest incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma occurs in Sardinia (Reference) Is it possible that it is due to the fact that African Swine Fever Virus is endemic on the island? (Reference) One study suggests that the incidence of K.S. in northern Sardinia is highest in a countryside area where people have contact with animals. (Reference) Given the high prevalence of HHV-8,--the so-called K.S. herpes virus--in Sardinia (Reference) is it at all possible that HHV-8 may have been misclassified and actually is a human-adapted form of African Swine Fever Virus? (ASFV has been at least visually mistaken for another herpes virus, CMV, in the past.)
A number of experiments could be conducted to explore this hypothesis. In addition to a direct comparison of ASFV and HHV-8, pigs with African Swine Fever Virus could be tested for sequences of HHV-8. People with Kaposi's sarcoma could be tested for sequences of African Swine Fever, including new Asfaviridae sequences recently discovered. (Reference)
A comparison of the K.S. lesions in humans and ASFV lesions in pigs might be in order.Given that African Swine Fever is currently spreading in Russia and is now threatening Europe and China, (Reference) it would be useful to know whether people who are exposed to pigs with ASFV are at increased risk for HHV-8, Kaposi's sarcoma and the other pathologies associated with HHV-8. A study in sub-Saharan Africa where ASFV is endemic and HHV-8 is also endemic (Reference) might be useful. And areas of Russia where ASFV is spreading could be monitored closely for any signs of an increase of K.S. or HHV-8 infection and HHV-8 related pathologies.HHV-8 is an emerging health problem. HHV-8-associated K.S. is a significant problem in AIDS patients. It may also be the key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. HHV-8 has been found in the cerebrospinal fluid of 50% of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. (Reference) HHV-8 has been linked to type 2 diabetes. (Reference) HHV-8 has been detected in B-cells in Castleman's disease and primary effusion lymphoma. (Reference).If HHV-8 is a form of ASFV, it is possible that pigs might constitute a useful animal model for the study of possible treatments for K.S. and other pathologies associated with HHV-8. And if there is any relationship between ASFV and HHV-8, people may have to be warned to take special precautions around pigs in areas where there are ASFV outbreaks. And countries where undercooked pork is consumed (like Ukraine where salo is a staple) may need to alert the public to cook all pork products thoroughly during ASFV epidemics.
The African Swine Fever Novel is available here
11. Prisoners fed meat infected with African Swine Fever