U.S. pork producers need to keep up their guard against a possible incursion of a foreign animal disease.
But a Minnesota swine practitioner says the issue also has helped heighten concerns about domestic hog diseases.
“It's been a long, hard winter, and sometimes people don't take care of everything they need to take care of,” says Jerry Torrison, DVM, Swine Veterinary Center, St. Peter, MN.
Biosecurity steps for Transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) provide a good example. Torrison says, “Be very thorough. Assume every truck is dirty. Don't allow unnecessary visitors. Make sure people are clean coming in. Close the doors to prevent the opportunity for disease to come in. Check and replace bird netting as needed.
“Let's use what we know to take care of problems such as finishing eradication of pseudorabies, keeping out TGE and not tracking porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) around,” he adds.
Some priorities have been misplaced, he says. Some producers have been very strict about downtime and shower-in, shower-out policies, but they have neglected the transportation issue.
In fact, says Torrison, transportation is the biggest risk to the pork industry.
“Never let a dirty truck onto your farm,” he emphasizes. Make sure trucks and trailers used in hauling pigs are thoroughly cleaned. Demand livestock haulers sanitize their equipment. Treat all farm equipment entering the farm as a possible disease carrier.
Torrison says a single, contaminated truck returning to the Netherlands from Germany was responsible for the Netherlands' $2.3 billion economic loss from hog cholera. “It was one guy, one truck, and it cost $2 billion.”
The Minnesota veterinarian expects swine transport will be included in the next revision of the Pork Quality Assurance program.
Retiring Minnesota State Veterinarian Tom Hagerty suggests these additional steps for overseas travelers:
If traveling to Great Britain or another country known to be infected with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), avoid going to any farm, zoo or other animal facility in that country.
If visiting foreign farms, zoos, etc., in countries with FMD, avoid all similar sites back in America for seven days after returning.
Don't bring back salami and other meats from FMD-affected countries. They could harbor the FMD virus and have been banned entry into the U.S. by USDA.
Travelers to a country with FMD should make sure all clothing and apparel are thoroughly washed or dry cleaned upon return to the U.S.
USDA offers a wide variety of information on FMD that can be found at USDA's Web site, www.aphis.usda.gov . Click on “FMD” under hot issues. Recorded traveler and consumer information can be obtained by calling (866) SAF-GUARD.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has published a host of practical educational materials on foreign animal diseases and ways producers can help keep them out. Visit www.porkboard.org  and NPPC's new Web site, www.porkscience.org .
Related retail questions and answers and fact sheets also can be accessed at www.nppc.org .