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Articles from 2016 In June


Are three recent viruses emerging hog disease threats?

Are three recent viruses emerging hog disease threats?

Recently, the number of calls and emails about growing pigs showing a wide range of neurologic signs of disease possibly related to three somewhat lesser-known viruses have increased. Veterinarians report growing pigs presenting symptoms that range from mild muscle tremors with mental alertness to lethargy and ataxia, with the most extreme cases progressing to paralysis and death. Reports of morbidity have been as low as 5% to as high as 20%. Case fatality rate has ranged from 30% to 100%.

Among the possible infectious causes are porcine teschovirus, porcine sapelovirus and atypical porcine pestivirus. Although these viruses are not new to the United States, historically confirmed cases have been reported infrequently.

Porcine teschovirus
PTV is a non-enveloped, positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus in the genus Teschovirus of the family Picornaviridae. There are 13 known serotypes of PTV. Pigs can be co-infected with more than one serotype and PTV is commonly isolated in healthy swine. Highly virulent strains of PTV-1 can cause teschovirus encephalomyelitis. Less virulent strains of PTV-1, in addition to PTV-2, PTV-3, and PTV-5, are associated with Talfan disease (also known as benign enzootic paresis), a milder presentation of polioencephalomyelitis than teschovirus encephalomyelitis.

In teschovirus encephalomyelitis, fever, anorexia, listlessness and locomotor ataxia can be seen prior to paralysis/paresis. Caudal ataxia leading to paresis or paralysis can be seen as early as two to three days post infection. Commonly, death occurs three to four days after the onset of clinical signs,1 but recent suspected cases progressed quickly to death within 24 hours.

Abortion and SMEDI syndrome (stillbirth [S], mummified fetus [M], embryonic death [ED], infertility [I]) have been linked to the variety of reproductive disorders that can be caused by PTV serotypes. SMEDI syndrome is also seen with parvovirus infections, which more frequently cause reproductive disorders in conventional herds than PTV.

Porcine sapelovirus
PSV is a non-enveloped, positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the genus Sapelovirus in the family Picornaviridae. PSV is closely related to the genus Enterovirus and was previously classified as porcine enterovirus 8 (PEV-8). There are three species within the Sapelovirus genus: porcine, simian and avian. Pigs, monkeys and ducks are the only known hosts for each species.

Polioencephalomyelitis syndrome, characterized by ataxia and limb paralysis, with or without other clinical symptoms (diarrhea or pneumonia) is suggestive of PSV infection.2 A recently reported incident resulted in high case mortality within 24 to 48 hours. Like PTV, SMEDI syndrome has also been linked to the virus. Litters with few to several stillborn or mummified fetuses may be suggestive of PSV-induced reproductive disorder3 when no other more common cause is identified.

Atypical porcine pestivirus
A study by Arruda et al., published in 2016, identified an APPV from piglets with congenital tremors.4 This virus was closely related to a novel pestivirus reported in serum samples from pigs involved in a PRRS metagenomics sequencing study. Phylogenetic analysis showed the greatest similarity to a newly described pestivirus in bats in China.

Samples from growing pigs submitted to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for routine testing were screened for APPV RNA via RT-PCR and 6% (22/362) of the pigs tested positive.4 Also in this study, pregnant sows were inoculated with APPV (intravenous, intranasal and inoculation of fetal amniotic vesicles) in an attempt to cause disease. Inoculated sows farrowed pigs affected with congenital tremors while controls did not. APPV was also consistently detected in tissues from affected piglets via RT-PCR.4

Just recently, an APPV was isolated from a pig with uncontrollable shaking coming from a herd in which approximately 700 affected pigs in the herd had died with no other diagnosed cause. Notably, this outbreak occurred in pigs 5 to 14 weeks-of-age, which is significantly older than piglets in which congenital tremors occur.5

Help bridge the knowledge gap

There are significant knowledge gaps about the pathogenicity and epidemiology of these three viruses. The data from the veterinary diagnostic labs are yet to be analyzed to determine if the recent communications are part of an increasing trend or part of the more historic, sporadic outbreaks. Although individual cases may seem to be isolated, sporadic incidents, they could be indicative of a more important emerging disease trend. This is why it’s important that everyone who experiences an outbreak communicates it so the information can be aggregated to create a comprehensive assessment of the disease in question.

If you encounter any cases with clinical signs similar to these, keep these three viruses in mind as potential differential diagnoses. And, should the veterinary diagnostic lab discover that any of these three are the confirmed etiology, please let the Swine Health Information Center know by sending an email to shic@swinehealth.org or calling the center at 855-211-4333. Only aggregate information, not individual identifiers, would be communicated if a trend is identified. This will be a great help to the industry as a whole to understand if any of them are an emerging pathogen in the United States.

Posted under the Emerging Diseases tab of the Swine Health Information Center’s website, www.swinehealth.org are fact sheets with more information about these viruses and information about SHIC financial support for additional diagnostic testing. The mission of the Swine Health Information Center is to protect and enhance the health of the U.S. swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats, and analysis of swine health data. For more information, visit www.swinehealth.org or contact Paul Sundberg at psundberg@swinehealth.org.

References
1. Deng MY, Millien M, Jacques-Simon R, Flanagan JK, Bracht AJ, Carrillo C, Barrette RW, Fabian A, Mohamed F, Moran K, Rowland J, Swenson SL, Jenkins-Moore M, Koster L, Thomsen BV, Mayr G, Pyburn D, Morales P, Shaw J, Burrage T, White W, McIntosh MT, Metwally S. Diagnosis of Porcine teschovirus encephalomyelitis in the Republic of Haiti. J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012;24(4):671-678.

2. Lan DL, Ji WH, Yang SX, Cui L, Yang Z, Yuan C, Hua X. Isolation and characterization of the first Chinese porcine sapelovirus strain. Arch Virol. 2011;156(9):1567-1574.

3. Huang J, Gentry RF, Zarkower A. Experimental infection of pregnant sows with porcine enteroviruses. Am J Vet Res. 1980;41(4):469-473.

4. Arruda BL, Arruda PH, Magstadt DR, et al. Identification of a Divergent Lineage Porcine Pestivirus in Nursing Piglets with Congenital Tremors and Reproduction of Disease following Experimental Inoculation. PLoS One. 2016;11(2):e0150104.

5. National Hog Farmer. KSU Research Team Discovers Novel Pestivirus Affecting Swine. 2015; http://nationalhogfarmer.com/animal-well-being/ksu-research-team-discovers-novel-pestivirus-affecting-swine?page=1. Accessed March 30, 2016.

Three ways to get the most out of creep feeding pigs

Nursery management sets the pace for pigs’ lifetime performance, so minimizing production lags is crucial during this phase. Creep feeding is one practice you can use to optimize performance during the weaning period. 

Research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo., has shown creep-fed pigs ate more aggressively and experienced early and sustained gains in the nursery compared to pigs that weren’t creep-fed.

“Successful pork producers know many factors affect pig performance,” says Brenda DeRodas, Ph.D., director of swine research at Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo. “When considering which tools would work best within an operational budget, producers should keep in mind the numerous ways creep feeding can support production goals.”

Here are three ways creep feeding can help you make the most of your nutrition program.

Encourage intake
In a Purina Animal Nutrition Center creep feed study, pigs creep fed for three to five days pre-weaning scored higher on a number of key performance indicators compared to those not offered creep feed. One of the KPI’s was average daily feed intake. Data indicates the creep-fed nursery pigs showed 13% higher average daily feed intake during the first week after weaning than those not offered creep feed. (See Figure 1)“No matter how good your feed program is, if the pigs don’t eat as much as they need it doesn’t help the pigs,” DeRodas says. “Pigs that eat aggressively can access the nutrition they need, and creep feeding has been shown to create early, aggressive eaters.”

Support optimal productivity
Research showed the benefits of creep feeding were maintained throughout the nursery. Pigs offered creep feed experienced 28% higher average daily gains than those not fed creep. (See Figure 1) Additional trials showed the creep-fed pigs were 1.1 pounds heavier at 20 days post-weaning and 1.8 pounds heavier at 36 days than their counterparts that were not fed creep. (See Figure 2)“According to our research, creep-fed pigs gained and maintained a weight advantage over the pigs that weren’t creep-fed,” DeRodas says.

Prevent waste
To get the most out of creep feeding, start by choosing a highly palatable creep feed with similar ingredients and flavor profile to the pre-starter and starter feeds in your nutrition plan. This can help minimize interruptions during feed transitions.

Begin creep feeding three to five days before weaning. Feed only as much as the pigs will eat to minimize waste. Feeding on mats twice daily gives pigs better access to feed and further minimizes waste. Always remove refused feed before putting down fresh feed.

Feed pigs when the sow is eating so they are less likely to be suckling. If they are asleep or suckling when you place creep feed, they might not notice it.

Creep feeding has been shown to have many benefits that — over time — can help you maximize your return on investment. Getting pigs off to a good start at weaning puts them on the path to optimal productivity through to finishing.

For more tips on getting the most out of your nutrition program in the nursery and beyond, visit www.ProgressToProfit.com.

Firkins named Merck executive director of U.S. Food Animal Marketing

Merck Animal Health announces that Todd Firkins has joined the company as the executive director of U.S. Food Animal Marketing. With more than 20 years’ experience in the animal health industry, Firkins brings an extensive background in sales, marketing and management, as well as considerable knowledge of our business.

“We are excited to have an individual of this caliber join our team,” says Shannon Kellner, associate vice president, Food Animal, Merck Animal Health. “In this newly created role, Todd will help us build on our greatest strengths and successes, as well as streamline our marketing team and functions to better align with and support the evolving needs of our customers and sales operations.”

Firkins, who comes from Bayer Animal Health, where he led the U.S. livestock category since 2006, also will be responsible for leading the development and execution of marketing programs for the Food Animal product portfolio to support the company’s business plan and organizational objectives.

“Merck Animal Health is built on solid science, a commitment to animal health and well-being, and an unwavering focus on its customers,” says Firkins. “It’s an honor to be part of this organization and an amazing opportunity to build and lead a cutting-edge marketing team that will underpin many of the company’s objectives – including a commitment to unparalleled customer satisfaction, anticipating and meeting unmet customer needs and creating significant value for them, while also becoming the preeminent animal health company in the industry.”

A graduate of Texas A&M University, Firkins is an active member of myriad of professional associations, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and Center for Beef Excellence.

Smithfield Foods’ Environment report shows achievements, focus on sustainable supply chain

Today, Smithfield Foods Inc. announced the release of the second installment of its 15th annual sustainability and financial report, which focuses on environmental goals and practices that improve Smithfield’s performance while promoting supply chain efficiency. The Environment section of this year’s report shows solid improvements in reducing the company’s natural resource demand and leadership in advancing sustainable farming practices.

Smithfield surpassed its normalized greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and nearly met its energy use reduction target four years ahead of its 2020 deadline. In 2015, Smithfield also reduced its normalized water use by 2.6% due in part to several new water management projects implemented at facilities and farms. Last year, two more Smithfield facilities achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, bringing the total to six. These efforts and other waste reduction projects helped Smithfield decrease its normalized solid waste generation, despite an increase in production in 2015.

The report also highlights Smithfield’s collaborative work with the Environmental Defense Fund on a program to equip and train grain farmers to adopt fertilizer optimization and conservation practices. In 2015, Smithfield purchased 15% of its grain from grain-sourcing acres in the Southeast that participated in the program, which recently expanded to the Midwest. The project’s growth places Smithfield on track to achieve its 2018 goal of purchasing 75% of its grain from farmers who adopt on-farm conservation practices that reduce nitrogen fertilizer loss and GHG emissions while increasing crop production and improving soil health.

In addition to projects that directly impact the company’s environmental footprint, the annual report details Smithfield’s support of new programs that advance sustainable practices across the industry and ongoing environmental stewardship programs and research. In 2015, Smithfield collaborated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch the agency’s Nutrient Recycling Challenge, a competition to develop affordable technologies that recycle nutrients from livestock manure. The competition will conclude early next year.

“As a global food producer, we embrace our responsibility to drive positive change across the industry in addition to adding value to our own supply chain,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “This requires working with a variety of committed partners, ranging from farmers and suppliers to governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and research institutions, to develop innovative solutions that equally benefit business and the environment.”

The Environment section is the second of a multiphase release of Smithfield’s annual sustainability and financial report, published annually since 2001. To better engage stakeholders by delivering information in a more accessible manner, Smithfield will publish the report in segments over an eight-week period organized by pillar of the company’s robust sustainability program. Following the Animal Care and Environment sections, Smithfield will publish its Food Safety and Quality section, and Helping Communities and People segments in succession. The full report will be available in mid-August.

Following the Animal Care section issued earlier this month, the report’s Environment section is now available at smithfieldfoods.com/environment.

Looking back at World Pork Expo '16

<p>Thousands of people braved the high temperatures to experience World Pork Expo 2016 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des&nbsp;Moines. (Photo courtesy of World Pork Expo)</p>

This year’s World Pork Expo reflected an optimistic tone as more than 20,000 producers and ag professionals, including 1,100 international guests from 35 countries, convened at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, June 8-10.

National Hog Farmer was there to cover the show from set-up to tear-down. 

Presented by the National Pork Producers Council, the 28th annual Expo featured the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, a range of educational seminars and issue updates, and another Junior National swine show that filled the barns to capacity. The Big Grill served up more than 10,000 lunches; allied industry hospitality tents lined the streets of the Iowa State Fairgrounds; and MusicFest provided an evening of fun and fellowship.

Massively changing China: What you should know

Aidan Connolly Alltech says ldquoThe Chinese government has become very concerned with reports of colistinresistant bacteria occurring in pigs and other livestockrdquo
<p>Aidan Connolly, Alltech, says, &ldquo;The Chinese government has become very concerned with reports of <span data-scayt-lang="en_US" data-scayt-word="colistin-resistant">colistin-resistant</span> bacteria occurring in pigs and other livestock.&rdquo;</p>

One word repeatedly used to describe China is change. Mark Lyons, Alltech global vice president and head of greater China, says “China is changing as fast as it ever has even though the economic growth might not be as fast.” Yet, China swine business is a global opportunity.

Lyons, speaking at the Alltech One Conference, outlines key economic conditions presently occurring in China. Living in the country, he provides an inside viewpoint.

As result of transformation taking place, the economic growth is slow. In general, the nation is restructuring and addressing anti-trust corruption.

Lyons explains the four major trends presented by Premier Li Keqiang: self-sufficient, quality improvements, scale and environmental protection.

First, China will continue its policy to have enough food to feed its citizen. However, Lyons proposes in which way and this alone could lead to vast modification for the food industry.

Furthermore, he adds that China is focusing on food quality. The country has enough food, but now they need better food. This also goes hand-in-hand with China’s refocus on larger farms. It is the government’s viewpoint that larger farms are easier to manage, especially environmental measures.

Noteworthy, environmental protection is becoming a center of focus for agriculture. Lyon says, “This is really something that is changing behavior. It is changing what industry is doing. It is changing what agriculture is doing. There are lots of farms being closed for environmental reasons.”

China pork market collapse

Currently, China’s pork industry is undergoing a vast change in itself. As the largest producer of pork, the data showing dramatic dispersing of sows has not gone unspoken or unnoticed. Lyons says, “We often refer to China as having half of the pigs in the world but that is probably not quite true as it was before.”

A collapse in China’s pork market has occurred.

“It is shocking to see how quickly it is happening,” says Aidan Connolly, Alltech chief innovation officer and vice president of corporate accounts. “When I first started going there 3.5 years ago, they had over 51 million sows. They are now down to approximately 36.5 million sows. Most of that decline happened in the last 18 months. They are specifically focused on the backyard herds where they think they have most of their food safety and disease issues.”

To keep it in perspective, Rabobank states in its quarterly pig report for the first quarter of 2016 that the declines of nearly 100 million head in Chinese hog inventory and nearly 15 million head in its breeding herd is equivalent to the U.S., Canada and Mexico pork sectors all disappearing from the global supply in less than two years.

Presently, China’s sow herd stands at 37.63 million and 10% of the hog farms are classified as large. These large farms only have 1.5 million sows, illustrating that consolidation has not yet occurred but is still to come.

Recently, Connolly visited China and interacted with Chinese hog producers. He says individuals in the Chinese swine business are very positive about their future, reporting gains in production with improvement in pigs per sow per year from 13 to 17.5, and better producers are now reaching 25-26.

He further explains, “Overall pork production is not down that much. So what that tells me is when you reduce your sow numbers by 20-25% and pork production is down by 7% then the conclusion is obviously the ones left behind are getting bigger and more productive. There is no doubt that is happening.”

In his presentation, Lyons explains that the improvement in pigs per sow per year from low teens to 27 means China needs only 27 million sows, which requires less feed and water.

Lyons says the pork market outlook for China is positive as pork prices are expected to remain high. While the government released frozen pork reserves to curb the rising prices, hog prices are still at a high level.

Feed costs have decreased for Chinese pig farmers. In February, feed costs were 16% lower than the previous year but the total production costs for finishing hogs is 4% higher.

Still, China’s change in grain storage policy will have a large impact on livestock production. The country will no longer store large stockpiles of grain. Previously, the large stockpiles contained grain from several past years’ harvest. Presently, very old grain is being released into the supply chain, causing some heartburn for livestock producers. However, in the long term Lyons thinks this is a good step because the storage conditions were inadequate and the stockpiles were too large. This will also trigger an increase in feedstuffs imports.

Largely, Lyons says, “This should be the most lucrative year for pig farmers in the past 30 years.”

At the same time individuals raising pigs in the backyard are exiting, small producers are hesitant to expand. The vast fluctuation in China’s pig prices are making them weary to continue in the business. Yet, the integrators are aggressively investing in the Chinese pork industry. Moreover, larger feed companies are building their own farms and starting to become integrators.

In spite of that, the Chinese pork industry will face challenges.

As environmental concerns come to the forefront, so are regulations. Every year around 1.8 billion tons of manure is produced by Chinese animal agriculture and pig manure accounts for one-third. The government is implementing new regulations including taxing water use and restricting development.

Lyons says, “as you can see water is going to be very big on the agenda.” The government is focusing on the large amount of water it takes to raise pigs in China. The adjustment in regulations will most likely spark pork imports.

Other key pork producing countries will give China a run for their money. International competitors, like the United States, overall have better efficiency, pig reproduction performance and labor productivity. Automation is one area that the Chinese will embrace heavily, explains Lyons.

Looking into the future, Lyons says the top 23 producers will mostly grow over the next five years. The Key 100 National Breeding Farms (MOA) will likely build new farms, especially boar studs. The government will support allocating large land areas and balancing manure handling as the large farms grow.

Addressing antimicrobial-resistant bacteria

The China government is currently addressing ways to reduce antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Connolly says “The Chinese government has become very concerned with reports of colistin-resistant bacteria occurring in pigs and other livestock, and subsequently being traced to humans.”

A paper published last year in a prestigious journal led to international pressure regarding restrictions on the use of colistin in animals, primarily as a growth promotant.

He says, “The Chinese government is acting on this at the moment, and we have seen resistant bacteria now being discovered in two people in the United States as well.  They are addressing the overall issue of antibiotic use and have restricted the list of drugs that can be used as growth promotants.”   

This list encompasses about 35 compounds but a further can be used on the farm.  Connolly further explains “Clearly, there is a new sense of urgency with respect to this issue.  Undoubtedly, this will lead to new actions and/or legislation to address what is a growing global concern.”

Chinese pork demand

According to Xinhua News, 64% of the meat consumed in Chinese households is pork. Regulations and good prices will fuel pork imports. However, Lyons warns that no country can produce enough pork to put a dent in Chinese pork production, limiting pork imports eventually.

Still, a shift in Chinese consumer preference can open the market gateway for U.S. pork. By 2020, Chinese consumption is anticipated to increase by $2.3 trillion even with the slower economic growth. In China, e-commerce will account for 42% of all growth in Chinese consumption over the next five years.

Although food safety is leading consumer concern, other consumer preferences are emerging. Equally desiring is higher quality at acceptable prices with an array of choices. Nutritional wholesome, taste, convenience and how food is produced are now all considerations when the Chinese select food.

Even so, the Chinese food marketplace will remain complex. For lower income households, meat is still a luxury item. However, Lyons reports the consumer would rather spend money on pork to consume two to three times a week versus chicken four or five times. Signaling as income rises; the consumer will mostly likely spend disposable income on pork and other meat products. Lyons says, “This very strong preference for pork is deeply rooted in the culture.”

Destron Fearing introduces new Masterline syringes

Destron Fearing has launched the new Masterline syringe line. With a presence in more than 40 countries worldwide, Destron Fearing provides solutions that meet the increasingly complex standards for animal management.

The new line of Masterline syringes includes the: 50ml Roux Revolver Syringe, 2ml F GRIP Syringe, 6ml V GRIP Syringe, the 12.5ml V GRIP Syringe and the 30ml V GRIP Drencher.

The 50ml Roux Revolver pistol grip syringe is designed for multiple dosing of livestock with easy dose settings. The V GRIP syringes feature “dial-a-dosage” for easy settings and is adaptable to bottle and tube feed configurations. Lastly, the F GRIP is a self-filling syringe with an ergonomic design for high-volume use.

All syringes are constructed of high-quality materials and designed for long service life. They feature metal luer lock tips, easy dose adjustments, ergonomically designed handles and removable barrels for cleaning. Service kits are available for each model.

“These new syringes are a great addition to our family of high quality, trusted products,” says Scott Holt, Destron Fearing marketing manager. “They are designed with the user in mind so they can stand up to rigorous use in the constantly changing agricultural environment.”

For more information, call 800-328-0118 or email customerservice@destronfearing.com.

Pork production poised to challenge demand

Pork production poised to challenge demand

The negative implications of the USDA’s June quarterly hog and pig report are far-reaching in that production is certain to remain record large for the second consecutive year. The negative surprise element of the report was contained in the size of the spring pig crop. Sows farrowed during March-May, at 2.90 million, were up 1% from the same period in 2015. In addition, another increase in the average pigs per litter, to a record high 10.48, pushed the March-May pig crop to 30.3 million, up 3% from last year and the largest spring pig crop in 45 years. This means butcher hog supplies in the late-summer and fall timeframe will be above expectations.

Reviewing the numbers, all hogs and pig were pegged at 102%, kept for breeding at 101% and kept for marketings at 102%. Again, the surprise element was mostly in the larger butcher hog supplies starting in late-summer. The kept-for-breeding at 101% was slightly larger than expected. This does indicate a cautious expansion, although certainly expansion.

Producers indicate they plan to farrow fewer sows this summer and next fall. This is where we get the idea of cautious expansion in that producers seem to realize they’re in the process of challenging demand for U.S. pork.

Thus, given these supply side inventory numbers, we’re expecting the USDA to likely expand their production projections for the third and fourth quarter of this year. The key question, on the backside of the Brexit vote, is what about demand? Pork exports are critically important to the pork industry with roughly 22% of production slated for export this year. Does the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union change this export outlook? Much will depend upon the direction of the U.S. dollar. If the dollar, which rallied sharply in knee-jerk reaction to the surprise vote, continues to move higher, then U.S. pork exports will no doubt be hurt. Having said that, we’re not sure from an economic standpoint that the recent events will usher in a slowdown in economic activity.

Most likely this fear (global economic slowdown) is currently being overblown. The U.S.’s largest pork customers — Japan, Mexico, China and South Korea — may not be impacted economically as much as currently feared.

My column last month described hogs as a sleeping giant in terms of waking up. Indeed, we experienced a dramatic price rally from late-May to late-June. August lean hog futures moved from just above $78 to just above $90. Impressive as this move was, about half of these gains were quickly given up just prior to last week’s hog and pig report. So what lies ahead?

The fallout from the surprise move by Great Britain will be lengthy and difficult to determine. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan indicated this decision is more dramatic and far-reaching than the stock market crash that occurred in 1987 (black Monday). Does volatility in the financial markets necessarily mean reduced pork exports and lower domestic demand? At this moment it appears we have more questions than answers.

Looking ahead, our lean hog futures road map goes something like this: The recent highs in lean hog futures will likely hold as the highs for the entire year. Pressure, in the form of rising production and an uncertain economic environment, will likely force hog futures prices lower into the late-August to mid-September timeframe. Any recovery in prices into early July should be considered hedging opportunities.

Immediately following the hog and pig report sources are indicating that pork packers are looking for butchers meaning the cash market into the Fourth of July holiday might continue to edge upward. The most recent CME lean hog index stands at $84.41. July futures, trading near $83.50 in the first session after the hog and pig report should uncover solid support and possibly work higher. Most active August lean hog futures will likely test resistance between $84.50 at $85 at some point prior to the Fourth of July. This should set up a selling opportunity for both the speculative type trader as well as the producer/hedger trader. In addition, our expectation is that heat during the summer months will continue to push average hog weight downward, providing near-term support for the cash market. 

One flu, many colors

One flu, many colors

Influenza A viruses have three main hosts — birds, humans and swine. In these hosts, infection can result in significant disease.

For many years, influenza researchers and health professionals have tried to address the virus of each host separately, ignoring the fact that influenza A viruses have a single natural reservoir or source, wild waterfowl. Having a single natural source or ancestor means that the core viral genes, namely the matrix and nucleoprotein genes, the genes that define an influenza A virus as indeed a type A virus, are highly conserved.

Only in the last 10 years has a “one flu” or “flu is flu” strategy been endorsed, thanks to the One Health movement. So finally, after the 2009 H1N1 global pandemic and the 2014-15 highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, the most devastating animal disease outbreak in the recent history of the United States, the USDA National Animal Health Laboratory Network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories have updated their influenza A virus test into one polymerase chain reaction test for the detection of influenza A virus in pigs, birds, horses, dogs, cats or marine mammals.

The influenza A virus screening PCR test used for humans in the United States is also based on similar technology. How simple and great is that?

It’s wonderful in the sense that with one test, a sample can be detected as influenza A virus positive or not. It also helps us not to miss cases where swine are infected with human viruses or bird viruses. It is important to remember that pigs are exquisitely susceptibility to IAV strains from these two other common host species, humans and birds.

That’s where the one flu concept is too simple, because when a pig gets infected with influenza A viruses from humans and birds and other pigs, then the influenza A viruses change and become quite diverse with many variations coming out of that same core virus of long ago. The many variants of influenza A viruses paint a complicated picture, sometimes with colors too numerous to grasp with quick glances, so in-depth studies of the viruses in pigs are necessary to find answers to the problems created by influenza infections.

The in-depth studies really took off with the advent of virus characterization tools such as genetic sequencing. As a result of the numerous virus characterization efforts undertaken by U.S. pork producers, U.S. swine veterinarians, NAHLN Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories and the USDA, the diversity, or many colors, of influenza A viruses of swine is more clearly understood. The USDA influenza A virus swine surveillance program activities between October 2011 and October 2015 included more than 90,000 samples.

A major contributor of accessions was the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Influenza A virus PCR positive results from the U of MN VDL were present in all months of the year, with April and October having the highest number of positive accessions (Figure 1). The most common subtypes found were H1N1, H3N2, H1N2 and H3N1 (Figure 2). While these two figures show the many “colors” of influenza A viruses of swine, the genetic characterizations of the viruses reveal even more numerous hues.

Globally, there are three lineages of influenza A viruses and these should be no surprise — they are those of the three main host species: swine, avian and human. However, in the United States, influenza A viruses of swine are either of the swine or human lineages. Of the influenza A viruses of swine in the U.S. swine H1 lineage, there are four clusters — alpha, beta, gamma and pandemic. The gamma H1 cluster dominates. Of the influenza A viruses of swine in the human lineage, there are four clusters (or “hues”) — delta 1, delta 1a, delta 1b and delta 2, and the delta 1 cluster dominates. Within the swine H3 lineage, the cluster IVA is predominant nationally, but five other clusters are also detected. Human-seasonal H3 clusters of H3N2 and H3N1 viruses also circulate in U.S. swine, representing another spillover event from humans-swine (Figure 3).

Therefore, whenever an influenza A virus is detected by the “one flu” test, it is just as important to further characterize the virus to determine the “colors,” which reveal the likely origin, lineage, possible transmission route and evolution of the virus. Influenza A viruses are fascinating, challenging and dynamic. The molecular tools now available are finally able to shed some light on this simple origin virus that becomes more complex in the pig host.

Detailed information from producer-driven and national surveillance systems should facilitate response and recovery to disease caused by influenza A virus infections.

One flu, many colors

One flu, many colors

Influenza A viruses have three main hosts — birds, humans and swine. In these hosts, infection can result in significant disease.

For many years, influenza researchers and health professionals have tried to address the virus of each host separately, ignoring the fact that influenza A viruses have a single natural reservoir or source, wild waterfowl. Having a single natural source or ancestor means that the core viral genes, namely the matrix and nucleoprotein genes, the genes that define an influenza A virus as indeed a type A virus, are highly conserved.

Only in the last 10 years has a “one flu” or “flu is flu” strategy been endorsed, thanks to the One Health movement. So finally, after the 2009 H1N1 global pandemic and the 2014-15 highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza outbreak, the most devastating animal disease outbreak in the recent history of the United States, the USDA National Animal Health Laboratory Network of veterinary diagnostic laboratories have updated their influenza A virus test into one polymerase chain reaction test for the detection of influenza A virus in pigs, birds, horses, dogs, cats or marine mammals.

The influenza A virus screening PCR test used for humans in the United States is also based on similar technology. How simple and great is that?

It’s wonderful in the sense that with one test, a sample can be detected as influenza A virus positive or not. It also helps us not to miss cases where swine are infected with human viruses or bird viruses. It is important to remember that pigs are exquisitely susceptibility to IAV strains from these two other common host species, humans and birds.

That’s where the one flu concept is too simple, because when a pig gets infected with influenza A viruses from humans and birds and other pigs, then the influenza A viruses change and become quite diverse with many variations coming out of that same core virus of long ago. The many variants of influenza A viruses paint a complicated picture, sometimes with colors too numerous to grasp with quick glances, so in-depth studies of the viruses in pigs are necessary to find answers to the problems created by influenza infections.

The in-depth studies really took off with the advent of virus characterization tools such as genetic sequencing. As a result of the numerous virus characterization efforts undertaken by U.S. pork producers, U.S. swine veterinarians, NAHLN Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories and the USDA, the diversity, or many colors, of influenza A viruses of swine is more clearly understood. The USDA influenza A virus swine surveillance program activities between October 2011 and October 2015 included more than 90,000 samples.

A major contributor of accessions was the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Influenza A virus PCR positive results from the U of MN VDL were present in all months of the year, with April and October having the highest number of positive accessions (Figure 1). The most common subtypes found were H1N1, H3N2, H1N2 and H3N1 (Figure 2). While these two figures show the many “colors” of influenza A viruses of swine, the genetic characterizations of the viruses reveal even more numerous hues.

Globally, there are three lineages of influenza A viruses and these should be no surprise — they are those of the three main host species: swine, avian and human. However, in the United States, influenza A viruses of swine are either of the swine or human lineages. Of the influenza A viruses of swine in the U.S. swine H1 lineage, there are four clusters — alpha, beta, gamma and pandemic. The gamma H1 cluster dominates. Of the influenza A viruses of swine in the human lineage, there are four clusters (or “hues”) — delta 1, delta 1a, delta 1b and delta 2, and the delta 1 cluster dominates. Within the swine H3 lineage, the cluster IVA is predominant nationally, but five other clusters are also detected. Human-seasonal H3 clusters of H3N2 and H3N1 viruses also circulate in U.S. swine, representing another spillover event from humans-swine (Figure 3).

Therefore, whenever an influenza A virus is detected by the “one flu” test, it is just as important to further characterize the virus to determine the “colors,” which reveal the likely origin, lineage, possible transmission route and evolution of the virus. Influenza A viruses are fascinating, challenging and dynamic. The molecular tools now available are finally able to shed some light on this simple origin virus that becomes more complex in the pig host.

Detailed information from producer-driven and national surveillance systems should facilitate response and recovery to disease caused by influenza A virus infections.