As the Swine Health Information Center celebrates its first anniversary, it’s time to look back at what the organization has accomplished in its first year to get an early indication of how this new organization is conducting its important work.
Collaboration drives coordination and success
The mission of the SHIC is to protect and enhance the health of the U.S. swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats, and analysis of swine health data.
To start meeting this mission in 2015, the nine members of the SHIC Board hired Paul Sundberg as the organization’s first executive director in June 2015. A good summary of SHIC’s more notable achievements includes the following.
From the onset, SHIC reached out to many groups that have a connection to swine health to help define and refine its mission. Chief among these stakeholders include USDA-APHIS, pork producers, veterinarians and allied industry. Because of our linked industries, SHIC also has engaged Canadian counterparts as well to help coordinate disease information and response with their domestic industry.
Global disease assessment
To build on SHIC’s assessment of disease status from a global perspective, it conducted a survey of swine diseases and disease issues with the international network of the group’s Monitoring and Analysis Working Group. Responses came from 13 foreign countries — Japan, Korea, Philippines, China, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Canada.
Acting upon its mission, SHIC gave support to four veterinary diagnostic laboratories with the explicit purpose of standardizing the way that they report their testing results. This collaboration is on track to improve the ability of the diagnostic labs to communicate test results and just as importantly to help improve communication about the real-time status of U.S. disease trends and outbreaks.
Disease risks research
SHIC funded many research projects over the past year. However, a highlight would have to be the project that will help define disease introduction risks to the U.S. pork industry that come from importing feedstuffs and feed components. Preliminary results about the findings of this research will be presented at the 2016 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in September.
Rapid response teams
To help foster rapid onsite responses to disease investigations across the United States, SHIC developed a geographic system for rapid response investigations of disease outbreaks on farms. SHIC’s board approved dividing the country into regions with Rapid Response Teams, each with small groups of swine health experts who can be deployed on farms within 72 hours after a request. Each group is tasked with investigating any disease or potential outbreak for epidemiology, assessment of potential introduction pathways and management of the outbreak review.
Diagnostic fee support
To help more producers and their veterinarians solve outbreaks with unknown etiology, SHIC developed a system of support to help offset some diagnostic fees after the initial diagnostics are completed. SHIC can help producers in cases where there are incidents of high or ongoing morbidity or mortality where an etiology is either not identified or there is a strong suspicion that the identified etiology is not the likely cause of the outbreak. To date, SHIC is in the process of helping with two cases of disease from unknown etiologies.
Swine disease matrix
SHIC’s management of the Swine Disease Matrix was widely noted during its first year. This project will help the pork industry be better prepared for emerging diseases, and has helped to bring coordination of researchers to meet this objective.
SVV: SHIC’s early test
In less than a month after the official opening of SHIC in July 2015, the newly minted organization met its first challenge in Seneca Valley Virus. SHIC responded quickly with $270,000 worth of research into SVV to get critical answers to this new disease threat to the U.S. pork industry.
From the SHIC’s targeted SVV research, practitioners and producers alike learned much more about SVV’s etiology and how to combat it at the farm level. A combination of fact sheets, webinars and research reports all combined to help the industry get a handle on this emerging disease in a way that made good use of lessons learned from the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus outbreak that began in 2013.
In the end, SHIC’s role with SVV serves as a template as to how it will act during times of future emerging disease threats — it’s about ongoing and active monitoring and identifying risks; it’s about getting targeted research funded and under way quickly when a threat is identified; it’s about having reliable and practical diagnostic capabilities; and it’s about having fast and accurate communications channels to reach producers, practitioners and others in the industry with the best available information to take action.
The mission of the Swine Health Information Center is to protect and enhance the health of the U.S. swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats and analysis of swine health data. To learn more about the SHIC, visit www.swinehealth.org or contact Paul Sundberg.