In the latest edition of SHIC Talk, Swine Health Information Center Associate Director Megan Niederwerder was joined by National Pork Producers Council Consultant Liz Wagstrom, American Association of Swine Veterinarians Executive Director Harry Snelson and National Pork Board Assistant Chief Veterinarian Patrick Webb, along with host Barbara Campbell Determan, to share an update on African swine fever.
Representatives of these industry organizations last shared an ASF update on SHIC Talk in May 2021. Over the last 15 months, the disease continued to spread to new regions in Europe and Asia, then was detected on the island of Hispaniola in the western hemisphere. Exactly one year ago, the first case of ASF was identified in the Dominican Republic and soon thereafter in Haiti. Niederwerder pointed to the SHIC Disease Monitoring Reports as a resource for global ASF awareness, highlighting the first official reports of ASF detection in Thailand and mainland Italy occurring in January 2022.
Significant progress in preparedness and prevention has been made in the United States since May 2021, including the creation of an Industry ASF Strategy Work Group by NPB and NPPC's Boards of Directors to unify ASF preparation and response efforts. This group developed priorities for a national ASF strategy which includes AASV, SHIC and other allied industry groups. Wagstrom reviewed the six main priorities during the podcast.
Additionally, significant efforts have been made to identify gaps in response capabilities and develop strategies and resources to address those gaps. Snelson pointed to the shortage in resources and personnel in the industry for an ASF response effort and shared information on the Certified Swine Sample Collector program now in the pilot phase of development. Goals include increasing the number of trained personnel proficient at sample collection in the event of an ASF outbreak.
Webb offered information on AgView database dashboard technology where producers and state animal health officials are creating accounts which will enable them to communicate rapidly in the event of a foreign animal disease investigation or outbreak. Contributing to U.S. preparedness is the continued increase in the number of AgView accounts and adoption of this contact-tracing technology.
While awareness of ASF has risen in the U.S. pork industry, there are areas where further work is needed. SHIC Talk participants said the U.S. pork industry should be doing more FAD investigations and laboratory surveillance to increase our likelihood of early and rapid detection should ASF be introduced. Continued focus on farm biosecurity is necessary, including applying sow/breeding farm practices to grow-finish sites where vulnerabilities have been exposed. Interest remains high regarding feed biosecurity and how to mitigate those risks on the farm. Recognizing ASF may not always present with high death loss is important as a broad spectrum of clinical signs have been reported in the Dominican Republic. Broadening our testing protocols by using additional sample types would benefit surveillance capacity.
As the participants in the podcast concluded their remarks, each shared a take home message for the U.S. pork industry:
- Create an AgView account for movement tracking and rapid communication.
- Establish a relationship with your state animal health official and USDA area veterinarian in charge.
- If you see something, say something: report abnormal clinical signs in your herd.
- Emphasize biosecurity as a priority day in and day out to personnel on your site.
SHIC, launched by the National Pork Board in 2015 solely with Pork Checkoff funding, continues to focus efforts on prevention, preparedness and response to novel and emerging swine disease for the benefit of U.S. swine health. SHIC is funded by America's pork producers to fulfill its mission to protect and enhance the health of the U.S. swine herd.
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