Are we ready for the next foreign animal disease?

Survey findings present the current status quo of US SHIP participants.

March 21, 2023

4 Min Read
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National Pork Board

The U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan is a collaborative effort between industry, state and federal entities modeled after the National Poultry Improvement Plan. US SHIP has been specifically organized to meet the unique needs and challenges of the U.S. swine industry. US SHIP is able to use the lessons learned by the NPIP over the last 80 plus years to fast track a plan that addresses the concerns of the swine industry to prevent the introduction of trade impacting diseases such as African swine fever and classical swine fever, as well as respond to and mitigate their impact if found in the United States.

In an effort to understand the current status of biosecurity practices being implemented in the U.S. swine industry, all producers enrolling sites with US SHIP are asked to complete a biosecurity survey. The end goal of the biosecurity survey is to capture and benchmark the biosecurity practices implemented across the swine industry. As of January 2023, 7,902 individual sites (6,784 growing pig, 849 breeding herd, 110 small holding, 58 non-commercial, 50 boar stud, 33 farrow-to-feeder/finish, and 18 packing plants) in 31 states have responded to the survey. The US SHIP biosecurity survey can help guide new program standards and developments.  

Through this series of articles, we will convey the survey findings to present the current status quo of US SHIP participants, and how we can use it to better address foreign animal diseases.

Farm entry procedures
FAD agents such as the ASF virus can be transported on fomites including materials such as clothing, utensils and farm tools. Showering in and out of facilities is an effective procedure for reducing the possibility of pathogen entry into and exiting from a site through personnel. 

The US SHIP biosecurity survey responses showed that just over 50% of sites require everyone to shower in and shower out. Breeding sites were the most likely to require a showering procedure (93.5%), where only 8.9% of small holding sites responded saying they require a shower. Just 3.4% of non-commercial sites that responded to the biosecurity survey indicated a shower was required prior to entry. If showering facilities are not in place, some preventative measures can be taken; such as providing a changing area for changing into clean coveralls and footwear for all visitors as well as an area for washing and disinfecting hands.   

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Feed mitigation
There is growing concern for potential introduction of FADs through contaminated feed ingredients. Ingredients used in U.S. swine diets are sourced globally, with some of those regions being affected by FADs including ASF and/or CSF. Pathogens such as the ASF virus have been shown to potentially survive for months in both plant and animal-based ingredients.

To ensure we are providing safe food for our animals there are steps that can be taken. The first step is knowing where ingredients originate. Ingredients that originate from ASF positive countries are particularly concerning given the extended survival characteristics of the ASF virus. Extended feed ingredient holding times (30 days up to 90+ days) allow for natural decay of viruses to occur. Holding times will depend on the type of feed/ingredient, ambient temperature and environmental conditions. Additionally, there are chemical feed additives which are safe for animal consumption that can be added to the diet with experimental evidence demonstrating the potential to reduce the detection and infectivity of viruses. There is variability in the swine industry in regards to feed mitigants where 5.9% of respondents to the biosecurity survey stated they always use feed mitigants, while 55.3% said they never did.

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Once an FAD enters the country it can remain for a long time and even become endemic. ASF is one of the most concerning diseases for the U.S. swine industry and it has been reported in new territories frequently. 

US SHIP is working hard to prevent and prepare for FADs such as ASF. We need you. US SHIP works through partnerships with industry and government. To find out how you can participate and help protect the swine industry, visit the project website and talk with your official state agency. A list of OSA contact can be found on the US SHIP website.

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