Be Extra Cautious with Senecavirus A

December 8, 2017 10:31 AM
The symptoms of Senecavirus A closely resemble those of Foot and Mouth Disease, so it’s imperative that U.S. producers and veterinarians remain vigilant of clinical signs in testing pigs before movement.

The symptoms of Senecavirus A (SVA), a disease that mimics Foot and Mouth disease (FMD), is gaining a foothold in the U.S. swine industry. That’s why producers need to be more vigilant than ever when they see signs of blisters or lesions on the skin of pigs, says Dr. Jack Shere, DVM, with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

In a phone interview on Wednesday, he told Farm Journal’s PORK he has seen an alarming increase in the number of cases of SVA investigations this year. In fact, in 2015 there were a total of 200 cases in the country, but this year, there were 300 cases in Wisconsin alone.

He says most of the cases have been in Midwestern states, where there is more movement of pigs, but he has also seen cases from other states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and even California.

Jack Shere
Dr. Jack Shere, DVM, USDA APHIS

“A case of FMD in the U.S. would be devastating to livestock producers,” Shere says. “That’s why it’s so important for producers to work with their veterinarian to make sure animals with these symptoms are tested.”

What It Looks Like
Pipestone System reports common clinical signs associated with vesicular diseases like SVA include:

  • Open or closed blisters located on the snout and/or at the junction where the skin and the hoof wall meet (coronary band)
  • Sudden lameness with redness and swelling at or around the coronary band. Some cases have reported up to 50% of the population being affected at one time.
  • Pigs that are suddenly off feed, lethargic and/or have a fever up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

senecavirus A symptoms

“If you see any of these clinical signs or are concerned, please contact your veterinarian immediately and stop any movement of animals from your facility,” says Dr. Scott VanderPoel with Pipestone. “Your veterinarian will then contact the necessary authorities and samples will need to be collected for a diagnostic investigation.”

VanderPoel adds that it is very important to identify animals with these clinical signs before they are moved.

“If these animals were to be transported to a harvest facility, the facility would then have to be temporarily shut down due to a concern of a foreign animal disease,” he says. “Again, Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) is the disease of concern and it is important to you and the animal industry this disease is not missed.”

What It Is
Senecavirus A is a small, non-enveloped picornavirus, unknown until 2002 when it was discovered incidentally as a cell culture contaminant, reports the Swine Health Information Center. Only a single species is classified in the genus Senecavirus. The family Picornaviridae also contains foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMD) and swine vesicular disease virus (SVDV).

When pigs have SVA, their symptoms can mimic those of FMD, which creates a big problem. Shere wants to make sure producers don’t become complacent in recognizing and testing for the virus. While all tests have proven to be SVA and not FMD, the industry must make sure it stays that way.

“As pigs break with the virus, we test for both Senecavirus A and Foot and Mouth disease,” Shere says. All sample goes to Plum Island, where a battery of foreign animal disease tests are run. Once negative for FMD, the animals can be released for movement.

There is no vaccine for SVA but a PCR test can be run in a matter of hours. State labs are able to run the test, and USDA works closely with state veterinarians to monitor farms that have the virus. If SVA is suspected, a Foreign Animal Disease diagnostician is dispatched to test the animals.

Don’t Take Chances
The trade implications surrounding this issue are significant, because just one case of FMD would be devastating to the pork and beef industries in the U.S.

“Every day is important – every move is important,” Shere says. “We don’t want to get complacent. Be vigilant, call authorities is you see blisters, lesions, or other clinical signs consistent with FMD or SVA, and make sure proper testing is done to ensure is animals are moved, they are moved under the right circumstances.”

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