Don’t assume ‘it’s only Seneca Valley Virus’

Paul Sundberg barely had time to get settled into his new desk as executive director of the newly formed Swine Health Information Center when Seneca Valley Virus started appearing in U.S. swine herds.

More correctly, SVV began to reappear in U.S. swine herds, as it has been in the country since 1988. Accessions were detected in June and October of 2014, and then again starting in March of this year, with a spike in July. Sundberg started with SHIC in July, coming over from the National Pork Board. So far Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota have identified herds with SVV.

Historically, SVV has not proven to have a high production impact, but the major impact is that the symptoms of SVV “are clinically indistinguishable” from foot and mouth disease. That is where the big impact of SVV could be felt. If a producer or herd veterinarian detects blisters on the nose or hyperemia of the coronary band, hoof pad or interdigital lesions, this discovery needs to be reported to state or federal animal disease control officials to initiate an investigation to rule out the presence of FMD. A producer or veterinarian should not assume that “it’s only Seneca Valley Virus.”

As Steve Meyer, pork analyst with Express Markets Inc., wrote in his Sept. 21 “Market Preview” column for National Hog Farmer, that complacency could result in a shutdown of export markets, predicting a 40 to 60% drop in hog prices, if the SVV assumption was in reality FMD. That’s the initial market response, but add on the negative light that would shine on the industry in the clean-up of an FMD mess and Meyer says that could cost the industry billions of dollars.

Sundberg suggested during his presentation at the recent Allen D. Leman Swine Conference that if a producer or herd veterinarian observe SVV signs to “just sit.”

“You just stay on the farm,” he says. “You don’t allow the movement of animals, people or vehicles.” After contacting the proper state or federal officials, personnel on the farm should “do what they say.”

In the event that a test is required to differentiate between SVV and FMD, Sundberg says the channels can operate fairly quickly. “Depending on when the samples are sent out, you should be able to get results back in a matter of a few hours,” Sundberg says, and then the officials will dictate the next steps to be taken. Delays may occur if symptoms are detected late in the day or in the evening.

Any clinically sick animal, including SVV-positive animals exhibiting clinically active lesions should not be shipped to slaughter. Even once the lesions are resolving, the receiving slaughter plant should be contacted prior to shipping. The slaughter plant, Food Safety Inspection Service and the state animal health official will confirm qualifications for accepting the pigs at the plant.

Caution needs to be adhered to at every step in the hog process chain to avoid an unnecessary shut down of pork markets. You don’t want to be the farm that brings the U.S. pork industry to its knees by passing through FMD-positive pigs, assuming “it’s only Seneca Valley Virus.”

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