Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Tackling endemic swine fever in backyard pigs and wild boar

Project Acronym CSFV GODIVA

Title of project Improve tools and strategies for the prevention and control of classical swine fever

Research area Agriculture & Forestry (Improve tools and strategies for the prevention and control of classical swine fever)

Contract No 227003

EU Contribution 3000 000 EURO

Start date March 2009

Duration 48 Months


Classical swine fever (CSF) is an infectious disease of pigs caused by a virus of the genus Pestivirus. It can cause serious economic loss to the farming community since eradicating CSF is problematic. Current programmes revolve around rapid detection, diagnosis and slaughter of animals infected with this notifiable disease. It is primarily spread by direct contact of healthy pigs with infected pigs or indirect contact between pigs and various items, such as vehicles, equipment, bedding, feed, waste, or people and their clothing contaminated with virus. The virus can survive in meat and pig products for many months and can be passed through this route when infected product is ingested. Application of stringent control methods has resulted in eradication of CSF within wide areas of the EU. However, it is endemic in some new member states particularly in back yard pigs as well as in various regions outside the EU.

In order to improve the eradication strategies the project aims to complete the final development and testing of a live marker vaccine candidate for the prevention and improved control of CSF that may be applied both orally and intramuscularly. It will also investigate the development and optimisation of the production of an effective oral delivery system for the marker vaccine for use in wild boar and back yard pigs and an accompanying discriminatory diagnostic test for the easy selection of diseased animals.

The project will gain improved knowledge on immunological reactions and pathogenesis that will support a more efficient vaccine application and provide data for epidemiological models. Studies of CSF in domestic and back yard pigs and in wild boar including molecular epidemiology are included in order to increase insight into methods of CSF transmission and persistence. Epidemiological models will be developed to support risk assessment covering both conventional eradication strategies as well as for new strategies using the new vaccines and diagnostic tools. Studies will include investigation of the role of CSF reservoirs in perpetuating the risk of this disease. The benefits of using anti-viral treatment will be evaluated and compared with the traditional eradication strategies.

Expected Impact:

The actions taken to control CSF are covered by Council Directive 2001/89/EC that lays down Community rules for the control of the disease in both domestic and feral pigs This project will contribute to the sustained development of the EU agrifood business by reduction of losses and other consequences resulting from CSF outbreaks and help compliance with the requirement of the Directive and associated legislation in member States. The development, validation and subsequent application of the new molecular and epidemiological tools and protocols, useable under varying circumstances (onsite, as well as high- and low-tech laboratories) and for different population types (domestic and back yard pigs and wild boar), inside and outside the EU will contribute to more effective epizootiological measures to prevent the (re-) entry of the disease into further EU regions and member states. Since CSF regularly occurs and re-occurs in countries surrounding the EU, it represents a permanent threat for the member countries that can be mitigated in part, at least, by extending this expertise to 3rd countries. Overall this work will result in a better understanding of and better tools to fight this highly devastating disease. The project will strengthen links between CSF research and veterinary authorities responsible for CSF control policies of the member countries. Disseminated of the information derived through this project amongst such institutes and animal health authorities will make new methods and techniques readily available inside and outside the EU and increase the standardisation and harmonisation between the CSFV laboratories. This will be beneficial for future exchange of data and further enhance globalised CSF management.

Since the CSF problem affects different countries within Europe while decisions on CSF control policy are taken at a community rather than a national level, the work needed to be carried out at both a European and an International level to guarantee results that will be exploitable both within and beyond the EU. The co-ordinated evaluation of the available knowledge in Europe has already resulted in a better understanding of CSF epidemiology in wild boar. The further improvements based on new models used to study the transmission and persistence of CSF; together with the development of new advanced vaccination and diagnostic tools, will support European decision makers in the area of animal health. The research concerning the back yard pigs will for the first time give a scientific basis for CSF eradication in such pig holdings and will be useful both in and outside the EU where extensive pig production exists. It is also expected that the work will impact on third world countries importing pigs or pig products as it will confirm that meat from vaccinated pigs does not represent a risk for introduction of CSF.

Expected Results: (As specific as possible)

The project will combine the final development and validation of a third generation vaccine with discriminatory tests and the development of simple pen-side tests as well as the epidemiological evaluation of CSF in both non-vaccinated and vaccinated domestic pigs, back yard pigs and wild boars. The project will provide a better understanding of CSF epidemiology, including pathogenesis, transmission and the nature of existing disease reservoirs both within and outside the EU. It will produce and evaluate a third generation of live CSF marker vaccines as well as develop and validate accompanying discriminatory tests detecting variable antibody response as well as differentiating between viral antigens. It will provide information derived from scenario-analysis resulting in evaluation of the relationship between cost and the effort required to establish control through use of various protocols in domestic pigs. It will also devise specific sampling protocols and provide a better understanding of the mucosal immune response after oral vaccine delivery as well as providing an insight iof the potential for use of antivirals as a possible control strategy. Other activities cover the development and evaluation of new or adapted techniques suitable for use under low-tech and on-site environments.

A safe and efficient live marker vaccine and accompanying tests will be provided for use in domestic pigs, wild boar and back yard pigs, together with tools for easier selection of animals suspected of having or carrying the disease. First generation antivirals will be developed and a support strategy towards their registration as approved products initiated. Epidemiological tools that estimate the risks, the benefits and the costs of possible interventions as well as sampling protocols applicable for specific emergency situation will be made available. The variation in cost, efficiency, feasibility and success potential of available control strategies (existing and alternative) for the emergency situation in commercial pig production will be elaborated together with an improved understanding of CSF perpetuation and of control options in back yard pig as well as of CSF transmission and persistence in wild boar. This will extend to improved management options of CSF in wild boar through the development of a new marker vaccine, easy oral application pathways and adequate baiting strategies.

Website of


Coordinator Frank Koenen,


Veterinary and Agrochemical Research centre (Belgium)


National Veterinary Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark,

French Food Safety Agency, France,

Central Agricultural Office, Directorate of Veterinary Medicinal Products, Hungary,

Central Veterinary Institute, Netherlands,

Fort Dodge Animal Health, Spain

Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, Germany,

Institute of Animal Health Umbria e Marche, Italy,

Institute for Virology and Immunoprophylaxis, Switzerland,

The National Game and Wildlife Agency, France,

Bioengineering Research Centre for Animal Disease Prevention and Control, China,

State Veterinary Institute, Sweden,

The Institute of Virology, Germany,

University Complutense of Madrid, Spain,

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany,

Spectos GmbH, Germany,

Institute of Animal Health of Abruzzo and Molise, Italy,