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Get Tough On PRV Eradication

If the pork industry is going to achieve its goal of eradication of pseudorabies (PRV) by the end of the year 2000, it's going to take some tough action.

And that's just what state agriculture officials and pork producers are calling for. They made that clear in voting overwhelmingly to support a new federal mandate during the PRV committee meeting of the U.S. Animal Health Association annual meeting last fall.

The driving force in the proposed federal program standards for PRV due out April 1 is for mandatory test and removal.

Basically, says Arnold Taft, DVM, coordinator of USDA's National Animal Health Programs for PRV eradication, the test and removal clause applies to all quarantined, PRV-infected herds. It calls for a program of testing all sows before or at the time of farrowing. Those sows testing positive must be removed for slaughter or placed in isolation for slaughter within 15 days of weaning. Boars must be tested quarterly and anything turning up positive for PRV must be shipped or placed in isolation for slaughter within 15 days of testing positive.

The program standards are actually only guidelines, reports PRV committee secretary Paul Anderson, DVM, Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

But major hog states are embracing the new rules, in particular requiring the test and removal clause to be part of mandatory herd cleanup plans.

Indiana's test and removal rule becomes effective Sept. 1. In both Illinois and Iowa, test and removal will become part of cleanup plans effective Jan. 1, 1999. North Carolina and Minnesota are in the process of adding the proposed new rule to cleanup protocols.

"It has become necessary to have this test and removal policy if we are going to finish the PRV program on time," Taft says. "We need to quicken the pace and one way to do it is by test and removal of all positive breeding animals."

Conscientious producers want to finish this eradication program, he adds. They are tired of becoming reinfected from careless or resistant neighbors.

Taft, former state veterinarian in Illinois, says states have made great progress in the past year. Many have cut the number of quarantined herds in half.

The national figure stands at 1,784 quarantined, infected herds as of Jan. 1, 1998. Almost half (844) of those herds are in Iowa. Other noteworthy quarantine numbers are: North Carolina, 445; Indiana, 182 and Minnesota, 165. There are a sprinkling of states with 30 or less quarantined herds. There are 29 PRV-free states, Taft reports.

North Carolina A summit was held last year in early July to discuss actions necessary for North Carolina to meet the national eradication goal. Leaders recommitted to the year 2000 goal.

John K. Atwell, DVM, was named to direct the PRV program at that time. Atwell is also director of the Rollins Animal Diagnostic Lab in Raleigh, NC.

"Most of the changes were in place before. All I have done is put a little more strong organization into it," says Atwell, former deputy administrator in USDA.

Last spring, a program of mass vaccination was agreed to for all herds in the state's three, contiguous, stage 2 (areas with the highest level of infection) counties of Sampson, Duplin and Lenoir. There are nearly 1 million sows there.

"With such dense hog population problems, you get recurrence of the disease regardless of biosecurity," Atwell comments. "Mass vaccination out there on the finishing floors as well as on the breeding farms gives you a little more protection so hopefully you are not carrying the virus back into the operation."

Most operations are three-site including breeding, nursery and finishing. The vaccine plan was to last 14 months, which would end in early summer. But Atwell says it has worked so well in curbing spread that the state's PRV advisory committee has already agreed to renew the program for another year.

The vaccination program is one sign of true commitment from the state's pork industry, because it's all being done with producer dollars and no cost-share funds from state or federal governments, Atwell adds. Laboratory support is being provided by the state.

The federal test and removal program set to go into effect in North Carolina is a second sign of strong industry resolve among even the largest producers.

"The new rules say there can be only one turn of an infected sow in a breeding herd before she's got to go. This means replacement animals in those infected herds will have to go to market much faster than is economical for most operations," Atwell says.

Those two economic factors will further test the industry's resolve in North Carolina. But there's also a big economic reason for finishing PRV cleanup. Large North Carolina producers send a couple million pigs out of state a year to be finished. "We have got to get rid of this disease or we are going to have trouble in the future shipping our pigs because of transportation restrictions from other states," he warns.

North Carolina probably is doing a better job of following cleanup plans than they get credit for. Issue at hand is that some states don't apply quarantines correctly, Atwell charges. "We count every premise in the flow and if one is infected, the rest of the sites get quarantined whether they are infected or not," he says.

Iowa Mandatory herd cleanup for all infected herds statewide became effective last fall, with completion of cleanup by the year 2000. Lawrence Birchmier, DVM, in charge of PRV programs for the Iowa Department of Agriculture, is confident that the nation's most infected state will meet the targeted deadline for program completion.

The state also recently rescinded a controversial rule requiring all stock moving interstate into Iowa to be vaccinated before entry. It was changed to only require vaccination for stock moving into counties with over 3"percent" PRV prevalence.

Indiana According to John Johnston, DVM, director, Swine Division, Indiana Board of Animal Health, the state harbors concerns about potential trade restrictions from neighboring states like Kentucky and Ohio where there is no PRV.

Several actions are being taken. Quarantines issued before Jan. 1, 1997, must be released by Jan. 1, 1999. Those issued after that time must be released within 24 months, he says.

Effective July 1, 1998, a new rule establishes a classification of the "non-complying" herd owner. These herd owners must have a completed form accompany all hog movements. Transport vehicles must be sealed by state or federal officials; hogs can only be marketed at approved destinations. Vehicles must be cleaned and disinfected.

As of July 1, 1999, those non-complying owners may have their herds depopulated by the state of Indiana.