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SHIC announces 2016 Plan of Work: What’s in it for you?

2016 Plan of Work initiatives fall under four categories: preparedness, response, monitoring and analysis.

March 18, 2016

6 Min Read
SHIC announces 2016 Plan of Work: What’s in it for you?

The pork industry finds out “what’s in it for me” with the announcement of the 2016 Swine Health Information Center’s (SHIC) 2016 Plan of Work. SHIC executive director Paul Sundberg emphasizes, “We don’t know what the next disease threat to our industry will be, but coordinated disease monitoring and targeted research investments to minimize the impact of future disease threats is the focus of initiatives. Our goal is to be as ready as possible to handle the next threat, and we look forward to accomplishing great things in the upcoming year.” A summary of the Plan of Work is found on the SHIC website at http://www.swinehealth.org/plan-of-work/.

2016 Plan of Work initiatives fall under four categories: preparedness, response, monitoring and analysis.


​The Swine Health Preparedness and Response Group of SHIC is charged with oversight of the Swine Disease Matrix research and for oversight of SHIC’s role in the emerging swine disease response plan. In 2016’s plan of work, this group first affirmed the importance of the Swine Disease Matrix Project.

 “Awareness and readiness are what we need to be able to effectively respond,” emphasizes executive director of SHIC Paul Sundberg. “When we think about preparedness, this what our working group kept in mind when they proposed and evaluated initiatives.

“Of great importance, being ready to test is critical to preparedness. Where there is a diagnostics gap, testing abilities will be improved. High priority virus antigen detection research will be assigned among universities with the interest and capability to do the research.”

Alongside this diagnostic work, veterinary and producer education is a spotlight. “When we have more information, we have the ability to more quickly respond to new disease,” emphasizes Sundberg. As previously announced, twenty-five fact sheets have been developed and are available online (http://www.swinehealth.org/fact-sheets/) pathogens prioritized in the Swine Disease Matrix.

“Regarding preparedness research,” says Sundberg, “the industry can respond to risks, we just have to know what they are. To understand better if imported feed components might play a role in importing diseases we have to take a look at their ability to harbor and support viruses.” Research specifically zeroes in on virus rate of inactivation during sea transport. “The results of this study would provide the first objective data indicating whether contaminated feed ingredients could serve as an entry vehicle for diseases that threaten the U.S. pork industry.  At the same time, additional entry risk assessment work will be initiated.”


“There is no predicting when or where the next emerging disease will appear.”  Sundberg stresses, “In spite of this uncertainty, not only do we need to prepare for what is most likely to come, but we also need to be ready to respond.” To be prepared to respond, SHIC is designating emerging disease research funds that can be quickly mobilized to support filling the immediate research needs if an outbreak happens. “We used funds to help us address Seneca Valley Virus this past year. We will keep funds in reserve to use in a similar fashion if another disease of concern rears its head.”

SHIC’s Preparedness and Response Working Group will oversee development of a rapid response framework.  Sundberg explained SHIC’s response model needs to be focused on ”… quick, focused research and action to answer questions and get the answers.”  Forming Rapid Response Teams will help to gather immediate emerging disease and epidemiologic information. “That will be used to inform producers and their veterinarians and to help inform the industry’s disease response plan to new or emerging diseases in the US.

“We also want to be able to provide help to clinicians and diagnosticians. To proactively and quickly help to identify any emerging diseases, we are designating some funds to provide diagnostic fee support to cases where the cause of an outbreak remains unknown,” explains Sundberg. “The target cases are high morbidity/high mortality cases where an etiology is either not identified or there is a strong supposition by the clinician working with the diagnostic laboratory that the identified pathogen is not the likely cause of the outbreak.” Information regarding requirements for these funds are outlined here: http://www.swinehealth.org/diagnostic-support/.


The SHIC Monitoring and Analysis Group is charged with assessing foreign, transboundary production disease risk using information from a variety of sources. 

SHIC will work to assess the value, shortcomings and modifications to existing disease and biosecurity risk assessment programs to understand how to increase the value. If needed, SHIC will support a plan for enhancements that would result in better coordination between existing biosecurity and diagnostic lab information and other sources.

Feed as a means of disease entry remains a targeted research initiative under monitoring. The pork industry is importing feed ingredients from countries with endemic swine diseases that are not present in this country. A pilot project to validate the materials and methods to do ongoing surveys of imported feed ingredients has been initiated.  

“Concerning monitoring and the prioritized diseases on the Swine Disease Matrix, SHIC will work to develop a method to continue to review and assess pathogens of risk on which to focus SHIC efforts,” explains Sundberg. The Swine Disease Matrix can be found on SHIC’s website at this location:  http://www.swinehealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SHIC-Matrix-Project-1.pdf. Sundberg states, “The Swine Disease Matrix is a living document. It will be added to and subtracted from, it will be changed, it will be reprioritized.” 

Lastly, database building and maintenance of emerging diseases of member countries is done by the   International Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Monitoring of these databases and contacts in these organizations will help to supplement SHIC swine disease international monitoring that takes advantage of the first-hand knowledge of the disease situations in other countries through personal, ‘boots on the ground’, contacts.


The SHIC Monitoring and Analysis Group placed a bull’s eye on VDL Data Standardization. Sundberg explains, “Veterinary  diagnostic labs have built their systems based on their needs in very credible and defensible way. But as the reporting for their swine diagnostic tests have been built, they have not been built to be easily shared. Swine health test and related data from different Veterinary Diagnostic Labs need to be standardized in order to facilitate compiling, sharing, and accessing data for disease response or epi analysis.

 “This is a big evergreen project. Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota, and South Dakota State university veterinary diagnostic laboratories are working together. It took very little to put together these laboratories and ask them to collaborate on this project.  This is one that is going to return long term benefits.”

“Lastly, there are multiple industry public databases that may be available and might be adequately mined for health information that could be valuable to pork producers. This initiative works to identify epi questions of value to the industry, identify sources of data for the analysis, support the analysis and communicate the results to the industry.”

Details regarding each initiative will be communicated as the year progresses.

The mission of the Center is to protect and enhance the health of the United States swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats and analysis of swine health data. For more information visit SHIC’s website at www.swinehealth.org or contact SHIC at [email protected].

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