Petznick named 2023 Allen D. Leman Science in Practice Award Winner

Nebraska veterinarian is respected as a thought leader in porcine sapovirus, a calicivirus that has been detected in pigs with and without diarrhea.

April 27, 2023

3 Min Read
UMN Swine News

Dr. Tom Petznick, a swine veterinarian based in Omaha, Nebraska will receive the 2023 Science in Practice award at the Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in September. For over 25 years Petznick has successfully met client needs through a balance of science-based and practical approaches to livestock health. His tireless efforts led to recognition of the widespread and largely unknown role of sapovirus in pig production systems. Also, his expertise in managing purebred sows has made him an in-demand consulting swine veterinarian.

Petznick is respected as a thought leader in porcine sapovirus, a calicivirus that has been detected in pigs with and without diarrhea. A PSaV infection is difficult to differentiate from other enteric diseases based on clinical signs alone. PSaV has been found as the sole pathogen involved in diarrhea cases, but more commonly is found in coinfection scenarios. 

The scarcity of epidemiological understanding of PSaV motivated Petznick to partner with state diagnostic laboratories to identify PSaV as the causative agent in numerous cases. He also worked with prescription vaccine platforms to develop novel vaccine strategies for his affected clients. 

"Pigs on one of my clients farms were experiencing unexplained diarrhea," Petznick recalls, "and it was costing them one to two pounds of growth per pig at weaning. We used next generation sequencing to isolate the pathogen's genetic code and we were able to develop an initial vaccine." Petznick intends to survey producers to learn more about the incidence of PSaV infections, and to also raise awareness of their impact on production.

Difficulties in managing Parity 1 sows during lactation was another problem that drew Petznick's focus. He worked with his clients to evaluate novel management strategies to improve the health and performance of these specific animals.

In both instances, Petznick has freely shared his experience and knowledge with other swine veterinarians. This reputation for collaboration has placed him on the short list of people to call when new disease and management problems appear.

"When I was a solo practitioner for a number of years, I quickly learned that if I don't collaborate with others I can't grow," Petznick says. "I want to bring the community together to solve problems for the pig. I have found that collaboration is an effective way to limit disease expression in the animals that I care for."

"Tom is known and respected for his perseverance, his use of scientific principles, his collaboration and for his leadership," says Montse Torremorell, DVM, PhD, professor and interim chair of the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine at the University of Minnesota. "These qualities exemplify what we strive to honor with the Science in Practice Award. We salute Tom for his decades of hard work and innovative approaches to swine health and production."

Petznick earned his DVM in 1995 from Kansas State University, and is currently working on a master's degree in veterinary preventive medicine at Iowa State University. Since 2010, he has been in private practice focusing on swine health and production and servicing swine clients of all sizes and types throughout the Great Plains and Hawaii.

Petznick will receive his award Sept. 18 at the annual Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in St. Paul and his accomplishments will be celebrated at the Science in Practice Reception on Monday evening sponsored by Zoetis. The conference is the industry's premier health and production management conference. 

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