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New collaboration agreement with the University of Copenhagen and Statens Serum Institut to perform animal infection experiments at the High Biosafety Unit of IRTA-CReSA

Meeting with the Danish team.

Under this agreement, signed in March of 2017, the IRTA-CReSA Biosafety Unit will provide two boxes for a period of two months a year, intended for experiments by the Department of Veterinary and Animal Science, University of Copenhagen and Statens Serum Institut.   

During the month of February, a research team from the Danish university made the first stay under this agreement to carry out a study on the African swine fever virus, one of the lines of research in the Exotic Diseases Subprogram of IRTA. The team aims to find out how long this swine virus is able to survive in the environment and then infect healthy pigs

One of the most worrying features of the African swine fever virus is that it survives in the environment, under various temperatures or pH conditions, especially when organic matter is present. For example, it has been shown that the virus can remain infected for years in frozen meat. However, recent studies by researchers at the University of Copenhagen/Statens Serum Institut show that the virus is not as resistant as previously thought. 

Working at the Biosafety Unit of IRTA-CReSA.

Is it possible for a healthy pig to become infected with the African swine fever virus after being on a previously occupied farm with sick animals?

To test the extent to which environmental contamination with the virus could be one of the routes of transmission of the disease, animals infected with the virus were placed in three different spaces in the facility. Then, in the same spaces and without cleaning up the remains of the previous animals (faeces, environmental enrichment material, etc.), healthy pigs were placed at different times to see if they became infected from this contaminated environment. 

This agreement recognizes the quality of IRTA-CReSA’s high level of biosafety infrastructure. On the other hand, researchers in the Animal Health program will take advantage of this exchange to share study and knowledge methods as well as to establish future collaborations with this university. The next stay is set for fall 2021, possibly by another African swine fever study as well.