This year, USDA estimates there are 6 million feral swine in the United States creating issues for traditional livestock production, natural resources and other species. To address these ongoing issues, including domestic and foreign disease surveillance priorities of feral swine, USDA convened a technical working group consisting of swine industry representatives, state and federal animal health officials, university and wildlife experts, including Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center; Harry Snelson, American Association of Swine Veterinarians; Dave Pyburn and Patrick Webb, National Pork Board; Liz Wagstrom, National Pork Producers Council; and Bobby Acord, a consultant with NPPC, also participated. The published review and recommendations report were a collaborative effort between USDA and the other groups for the purpose of addressing the feral swine threat to domestic swine health.
In an article published in the Journal of Animal Science, "Perspectives on the past, present, and future of feral swine disease surveillance in the United States," progress in management of feral swine is detailed. In describing the importance of feral swine management, authors write, "The rapid global spread of ASF (African swine fever) virus in the last 1-2 years in both domestic and wild swine has highlighted the need for vigilant surveillance and demonstrated the devastating impact of a foreign animal disease due to mortality, production losses and restrictions to international trade."
The National Feral Swine Damage Management Program was created in 2014 with the mission of managing feral swine disease damage. Per the published report, about 3,000 samples from feral swine are tested each year for antibodies against classical swine fever, swine brucellosis and pseudorabies. A targeted surveillance program prioritizes counties based on existing feral swine populations, domestic pork production, landfills and other disease-driven factors.
USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service established eight priorities for NFSP in 2018. A full review of the priorities is available here. In brief, they are:
- Serologic (antibody) surveillance for foreign animal diseases
- Need for highly specific serologic tests for ASF for surveillance activities
- Routine surveillance for SB and PRV should not negatively impact feral pig population control
- For meaningful data, targeted, risk-based surveillance is appropriate
- Flexibility for pilot, targeted surveillance of diseases is necessary
- NFSP would benefit from additional disease expertise
- For foot-and-mouth disease surveillance, syndromic work is preferred
- Partnership among industry stakeholders for dealing with feral swine disease outbreaks is essential
Progress on each of these priorities is included in the report which also includes 2020 direction and priorities for NFSP. An updated framework for surveillance was designed. The first priority for the revised system was function as an FAD surveillance system. Specifically it focuses on CSF (serologic) and ASF (morbidity and mortality) as well as FMD (syndromic). Another priority was for the framework to be nimble enough to respond to emerging threats. Further details on 2020 direction are included in the full report.
As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, SHIC 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.