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Preventing foreign animal disease outbreaks

National Pork Board Avian Influenza Biosecurity .jpg
Kaisand warns producers with an infected premise will face several very serious questions in a short amount of time.

When it comes to foreign animal diseases, Jeff Kaisand says he can't stress enough to pork producers to remain vigilant and to remember they are in control. In fact, the state veterinarian for the Iowa Department of Agriculture often refers to the famous quote from the movie Caddyshack, "See the ball. Be the ball. Control your destiny."

"Oftentimes when we think about foreign animal diseases everybody quickly steps back and says, 'It's out of my control. I can't do anything,'" Kaisand told attendees during a World Pork Expo Pork Academy session. "It is in your control."

Kaisand points to the lessons that were reconfirmed during the state's second avian influenza outbreak in 2022.

"Right now, it looks like 85% of the cases were point source introductions, either straight in from wild birds, so that's a testament to the poultry industry of biosecurity and keeping disease out or not letting it in," Kaisand said. "You can argue it got in somehow to start with, but at least we're stopping the spread laterally."

Over the last year, Iowa reported just 19 cases, with four of those being backyard sites. In 2015, the state had 77 cases.

"I think two of the big keys lessons reconfirmed is stamping out the disease as quickly as possible, depopulating sites very quickly and producers have some biosecurity in place," Kaisand said.

Sampling is also critical when dealing with a FAD.

"One of the first examples we had, the call came in on a Sunday morning roughly 11 a.m., and they had clinical signs of avian influenza from what they had described, and we made sure they had collected the right samples so collecting samples is critically important and … making sure we have the right samples but getting them to the lab," Kaisand said. "When that call came in, we mobilized our staff and we started working directly with that vet, with that producer and their next steps."

Those next steps involved working with the producer on paperwork for indemnity, as well as looking at on and off-farm movement.

For pork producers, Kaisand said this is where a tool such as AgView can be utilized. A free, opt-in technology solution from the National Pork Board, AgView helps producers of all sizes and types provide disease status updates and pig movement data to state animal health officials.

"AgView, it is so important of all those movements on and off of farms, because we also start having discussions with the producer what's moved on and off your farm and again keep in mind, we don't even have a positive result yet or even a confirmatory," Kaisand said. "We're starting those discussions ahead of time and trying to figure out what's been on and off the farm."

Those discussions are also critical for establishing a control area.

Another question that needs to be addressed immediately after is how do you want to mass depopulate on your premise?

"Those are big discussions. As a producer with an infected premise, you're going to be faced with a lot of very serious questions in a short amount of time," Kaisand said.

By 4:30 p.m. that Sunday, the farm had confirmatory results, but Kaisand said they were ready and had paperwork and a plan in place.

While there will be more logistics involved for the swine industry, specifically for mass depopulation, Kaisand stresses tools such as AgView make it possible to react quickly and effectively.

"A lot of foreign countries right now have moved from that narrow window if they had it to stamp out and eradicate to its endemic so back to the markets and crashing and all those things," Kaisand said. "We want to be prepared, that's one of the things I can't stress enough."

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