Protecting the U.S. swine herd isn’t for the faint of heart. From monitoring global disease threats and identifying opportunities to mitigate risks to helping producers identify and respond to emerging disease challenges, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC)’s 2019 Plan of Work addresses key issues facing the country’s growing swine herd.
“Since inception, the clear goal has been to create and maintain a resource that is able to respond to the needs of our industry quickly and with adequate resources to make a difference,” says Matthew Turner, SHIC board member.
Improving transportation biosecurity was a consistent theme brought up by producers last year and is a key priority for 2019, says Paul Sundberg, DVM, executive director of SHIC. The SHIC-funded and -directed projects will look for innovative, cost-effective ways to stop pathogen transfer to the farm.
“I’m optimistic research can demonstrate low-cost, implementable procedures to help prevent that transmission of disease,” Sundberg says. “We plan to take a deeper look at on-farm procedures when trucks come onto the farm.”
SHIC will also continue adding to the body of knowledge about potential risks of feed transmission of pathogens. SHIC will support research into ways to mitigate those potential risks. USDA and FDA say there isn’t enough information to consider pathogen transport via imported feed products a risk, because there is still little objective information. Part of the 2019 Plan of Work is to quickly get data and information to support an objective risk assessment that will prioritize where prevention needs to happen.
If contaminated feed component products are imported, those pathogens could be spread within the country during feed processing. Sundberg says they will work to better understand how pathogens are distributed in the mill and investigate cost-effective procedures to prevent distribution or disinfect the facilities.
“This research is urgent–it’s not a multi-year project,” he adds. “We need information as quickly as possible.”
SHIC’s ability to be nimble enough to fill in research gaps as needed and adjust priorities as issues arise is a key strength, Sundberg says.
SHIC will continue its Global and Domestic Swine Disease Monitoring Report projects. The value of the Global Swine Disease Monitoring Report was evident during the beginning of the epidemic spread of African swine fever (ASF) last year. These reports take advantage of the SHIC-funded standardized disease reporting from the major swine diagnostic labs. Looking at a coordinated disease reporting system helps ensure that an emerging disease will not go undetected. And quick detection is key to quick response, Sundberg adds.
He is excited about the continuation of the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project (MSHMP) in 2019. MSHMP helps provide the information and communication infrastructure for pork producers to be able to quickly respond to emerging diseases.
On that note, Sundberg says the work plan is not set in stone. He encourages producers and vets to call or email him at any time to let them know about urgent health issues or concerns.
“This is a guideline,” he says. “We’re going to make good things happen, and some of those things will be planned for and some will not.”
Regardless, the 2019 plan will build up on the 2018 accomplishments, seeking more answers and helping move the industry forward when it comes to swine health.
“When SHIC was formed, the goal was to develop an entity that helped protect the U.S. pork industry by working in concert with the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. I am extremely proud that we have not only reached our goals, I believe we have exceeded our goals,” says SHIC Board President Dr. Daryl Olsen.