SHIC/FFAR JEV Request for Research Proposals Nets 26 Reponses

The Swine Health Information Center and Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) leveraged funds to develop a $1 million research program to enhance US prevention, preparedness, and response capabilities for Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a transboundary emerging disease risk for US swine. Announced in February 2024, the partnership between SHIC and FFAR invited proposals to be submitted by qualified researchers to address 13 JEV research priorities. Proposals were due April 15, 2024, and a total of 26 research proposals from 23 different institutions, including international organizations, were received and will undergo competitive review for funding recommendation.
JEV is an emerging disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and identified as a priority for North American prevention and preparedness through global swine disease monitoring. In 2022, an outbreak of JEV genotype IV spread rapidly across new geographic regions of Australia affecting breeding swine herds and causing reproductive failure, delayed farrowing, stillbirths, mummified fetuses, abortions, and weak piglets. The US is currently negative for this mosquito-borne virus which has waterbirds as a natural reservoir host but is capable of infecting pigs, humans, and horses.

Recently completed, a SHIC-funded economic assessment on the impact of a JEV introduction to the US reports that 32% of the US sow herd would be at-risk for JEV infection and that resulting sow herd losses would range from 1-2% of production. Assuming no increase in prices due to the diminished output, the assessment says economic losses to the US pork industry would be between $306 million and $612 million. Coupled with the recent outbreak in Australia, this economic assessment highlights the need for close investigation of this emerging disease and its potential for incursion and establishment in the US.

Responding to this emerging disease risk, SHIC and FFAR joined efforts to form the JEV Research Program with a goal of generating new knowledge for US pork producers on JEV prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. The 26 JEV proposals received in response to this Program will undergo a competitive review process by a task force comprised of pork producers, veterinarians, allied industry, academic researchers, and government scientists. Proposals will be reviewed for their value to US pork producers, application to identified research priorities, scientific soundness, timely completion of objectives, efficient use of funds, level of impact on swine health, and industry-wide benefit.

Proposals were requested to address one or more of 13 research priorities for JEV: 1) transmission and epidemiology, 2) mosquito control, 3) diagnostics, 4) communication, 5) surveillance, 6) compatible cases, 7) challenge models, 8) vaccines, 9) cross-protection, 10) competent vectors, 11) role of wildlife, 12) novel hosts, and 13) viral sequencing. Proposal information and the detailed list of research priorities can be found here.

Upon review, project awards are expected to be announced in the summer of 2024. Projects demonstrating the most urgent and timeliness of completion, providing the greatest value to pork producers, and showing efficient use of funds are prioritized for funding. Results will be shared with producers and veterinarians as soon as they become available.

Research investments are necessary to prevent JEV incursion, ensure rapid detection of JEV if introduced, inform stakeholder response, mitigate production losses on the sow farm, identify effective control measures, and develop clear messaging to consumers on the safety of pork. Outcomes from the funded proposals will provide critical information that producers, veterinarians, and industry stakeholders can use to better prevent incursion and develop preparedness plans if JEV is identified in the US.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) is a non-profit organization established in the 2014 Farm Bill to build public-private partnerships that fund bold research addressing food and agriculture challenges. SHIC and FFAR collaborated with the Pork Checkoff to fund the Wean-to -Harvest Biosecurity Research Program now underway.

The Swine Health Information Center, launched in 2015 with Pork Checkoff funding, protects and enhances the health of the US swine herd by minimizing the impact of emerging disease threats through preparedness, coordinated communications, global disease monitoring, analysis of swine health data, and targeted research investments. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research. Forward, reprint, and quote SHIC material freely. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Megan Niederwerder at [email protected] or Dr. Lisa Becton at [email protected].