SHIC/FFAR Collaboration Seeks Japanese Encephalitis Virus Research Proposals

Barbara Campbell Determan, SHIC, at or 515-249-8460
Michelle Olgers, FFAR, at or 804-304-4200

Manhattan, KS (February 12, 2024) – The Swine Health Information Center and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) have partnered to fund a $1 million research program to enhance US prevention, preparedness, and response capabilities for Japanese encephalitis virus, a transboundary disease risk for US introduction.

SHIC’s strategic mission to identify risks to swine health includes global and domestic disease monitoring to maintain an acute awareness of emerging swine diseases around the world. Japanese encephalitis is an emerging zoonotic disease identified through global monitoring as a priority for North American prevention and preparedness activities. JEV is transmitted through the bite of infected Culex mosquitoes and biosecurity practices focused on mosquito control are key to reducing risk. The US is currently negative for this mosquito-borne virus which has waterbirds as a natural reservoir but is capable of infecting pigs, humans, and horses.

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. This recent incursion of a new JEV genotype into areas previously free from disease warrants the need for a close investigation of this virus and its potential for incursion and establishment in the US. Understanding the potential impacts of JEV on pork production in the US is critical to protecting the health of the US swine herd as well as mitigating the risk of this emerging disease.

In response to this emerging disease, SHIC and FFAR have partnered to invite proposal submissions from qualified researchers for funding consideration to address identified research priorities for JEV, including topic areas of 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 a detailed list of research priorities can be found here.

Proposals should clearly state which of the identified SHIC/FFAR JEV research priorities will be addressed through the project. Collaborative projects that include the pork industry, international organizations, allied industry, academic institutions, and/or public/private partnerships are highly encouraged. Projects demonstrating the most urgent, timely completion, providing the greatest value to pork producers, and showing efficient use of funds will be prioritized for funding. Projects are requested to be completed within a 12-to-18-month period with sufficient justification required for extended project duration. The JEV research proposal template can be found here.

Total funding available for the SHIC/FFAR JEV Research Priorities is $1 million. Individual awards are capped at $250,000 but proposals may exceed the cap if sufficient justification is provided. Matching funds are encouraged but not required; the $250,000 cap applies to only those funds requested from SHIC/FFAR. All projects should strive to be unique, have a high impact, show value to pork producers, and have industry-wide benefit.

The deadline for proposal submission is 5:00 pm CDT on April 15, 2024. SHIC and FFAR are co-hosting an informational webinar on February 22, 2024, at 3:00 pm CST to provide additional details about the application criteria. Attendees must register to attend the webinar here. Additional information can be found at For questions, please contact Dr. Megan Niederwerder at or (785)452-8270 or Dr. Lisa Becton at or (515)724-9491.

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 Program research project 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 or Dr. Lisa Becton at  

USDA APHIS Seeks Input on Japanese Encephalitis Response Strategy

Reprinted verbatim from a USDA APHIS email 12/27/2023 (source – Swine Health Information Center)

APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) is updating the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Response Strategy and invites feedback from key stakeholders.  

JE is not currently found in the United States. The primary purpose of this document is to provide strategic guidance to those government officials responding to an outbreak if it were to be introduced into the United States. This revision updates and expands the scope of the 2013 JE Disease Response Strategy. We have incorporated current science and research, shifted away from eradication as a response strategy, and updated considerations for control and vaccination. We also included more elements of the response than were previously addressed, such as recognizing a one health approach, increasing collaboration with public health authorities, and enhancing communication plans.  

Please provide feedback or comments, such as technical information, assessment of operational feasibility, and resource constraints, regarding the response strategy, using this form: The form will be open until Wednesday, January 26, 2024.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to the APHIS Veterinary Services Emerging Diseases Coordinator, Dr. Sarah Speth, at

USDA APHIS Veterinary Services Statement on JEV Diagnostic Testing

The US swine industry, including the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), continues to prepare for the possible incursion of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) in pigs. The threat of JEV has prompted the USDA APHIS Veterinary Services division to issue a statement regarding related testing and preparedness. The statement also addresses the diagnostic submission process and USDA plans for further preparedness activities.  

Diagnostic testing for any animals with clinical signs suggesting of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is available at no cost to animal owners and producers at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. Veterinarians and producers must first notify their State or Federal Animal health officials if JEV is on a differential list, and these officials will assist in the submission and sampling as needed. NVSL uses both PCR and sequencing to identify and confirm the virus. While serology has proven useful in the surveillance and diagnosis of JEV in endemic countries, it is of limited use in JEV free countries and will not be offered as an on-demand diagnostic test at NVSL at this time. USDA scientists are actively collaborating with partners to develop and characterize additional diagnostics, and in the future USDA will expand their active JEV research program to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, once the facility is fully operational, to better understand the pathogenesis, evolution and epidemiology of JEV. 

The US is considered a geographic region at risk for the introduction of Japanese encephalitis, a disease capable of affecting humans as well as pigs. JE is transmitted primarily by Culex mosquitoes infected with the virus. Environmental conditions similar to JEV endemic countries, as well as the availability of susceptible hosts and vectors, create concern for the US pork industry and public health officials. Clinical signs of JEV in the breeding herd includes reproductive failure, delayed farrowing, stillbirths, mummified fetuses, abortions, and weak or shaker piglets.

Additional information regarding animal JEV diagnostic testing is available from NVSL (515-337-7551;

JEV Spatial Interaction Model Research and Development

Through a Cooperative Research Agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture National Agro Bio-Defense Facility, Dr. Natalia Cernicchiaro of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University and Dr. John Drake, Director of the Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia, have begun a collaboration to 1) develop a spatial interaction model of the 2022 Australian JEV genotype IV outbreak and 2) build a JEV spatial interaction model for the United States using results from the Australian model. 

As research advances, periodic updates will be published on the JEVISN website and JEVISN listerv.