Keeping Out Hog Cholera

Kansas State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is working to keep out hog cholera or classical swine fever (CSF) as part of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NALN).

NALN is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored network of federal and state resources designed for rapid response to animal health emergencies.

NALN has established a national CSF surveillance program. Kansas is one of 18 states to participate in the program. Participating diagnostic laboratories will receive samples from veterinarians and pork producers.

Selected labs will perform the CSF testing, while veterinarians from Kansas and surrounding states to some degree will send samples (tonsil, nasal swab) from swine suspicious for CSF to the Kansas lab. Sick pigs submitted to the university’s diagnostic lab also will be included in the CSF surveillance program.

Gary Anderson, head of the Kansas lab, says it is important to stay vigilant for diseases like CSF, even though it is not a zoonotic disease that could threaten human health.

If CSF entered the United States, it could cost millions of dollars in swine mortality, loss of swine and pork product exports, and to control and eradicate the disease, he explains.

Severe cases of CSF produce sudden death in young pigs often without prior signs of illness. Acute signs include fever, listlessness, weakness, anorexia and conjunctivitis, tremors and convulsions. Chronic signs include weight loss, hair loss and dermatitis or discoloration of the ears. Subclinical cases usually show no signs of the disease but may still be infectious.