The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) has funded a near real-time global surveillance system for swine diseases. The project, conducted at the University of Minnesota, will look at a private-public-academic partnership to support the system. SHIC supports the project as it will provide needed information to US producers and their veterinarians, a key priority for the Center.
The study process will include identification of potential hazards, screening steps evaluating data collected, and consistent reporting. SHIC and USDA/APHIS Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health will be collaborating on the project.
The US swine industry is free of several swine diseases now being identified in different countries throughout the world. Having a systemic way to identify the hazards of new or emerging diseases from across the globe will help the US industry to detect foreign pathogens early on or prevent the introduction of them.
Very recently, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) was reported in Uruguay and Senecavirus A (SVA) in Colombia. The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) mission includes global disease monitoring. Using an international network of veterinarians, academics and allied industry, SHIC has surveyed for swine diseases circulating in other countries for the last two years. SHIC has also funded researchers at the University of Minnesota to develop a more formal and regular way to monitor for emerging and circulating swine diseases around the world.
The occurrence of PRRS in Uruguay was reported to the World Organization for Animal Health on July 20, 2017. A subclinical infection of PRRS was diagnosed through indirect ELISA testing and RT-PCR. There were five premises affected in Uruguay. Officials report an epidemiological investigation has started on those five premises and on pig farms where breeding pigs were imported in the last 10 years. Sampling in slaughterhouses will also continue.*
Dr. Daniel Correia-Lima-Linhares, assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University, has been on the ground in Uruguay and closely monitoring this outbreak. He said in the year 2000, Uruguay’s Ministry of Agriculture and the swine industry completed a serological study of pigs there, looking for antibodies of PRRS, pseudorabies virus (PRV), classical swine fever (CSF), and other diseases. They did not find antibodies, confirming the country was negative for these diseases. A follow-up study with 614 serum samples from pigs across Uruguay was conducted from 2014 to 2016. The samples were tested for those same diseases and resulted in evidence of subclinical PRRS, confirmed this month.
“The message is you cannot rely on clinical signs of some foreign animal disease in animals,” Dr. Linhares remarked. “There are variants of those viruses that might cause infections that aren’t obvious but still there. Look at Uruguay. PRRS was only discovered because they looked for it and did the testing.” Now in Uruguay they are investigating where the PRRS virus came from using sequencing to characterize the genome. “Internally in Uruguay, production systems and genetic companies are testing their flows to determine if they are positive or negative,” he commented. “They are starting to discuss whether to pursue elimination or not. Even though it is PRRS, it appears non-virulent, perhaps vaccine-like. Since they are not seeing clinical signs, they could argue it’s not a clinically important event at this time.”
Uruguay borders Brazil and Argentina. Both of those South American nations are no longer accepting pigs moving from Uruguay. The objective is to try to protect the health status of pigs in those countries.
SVA was diagnosed in Brazil in 2015 and 2016. The newly affected Colombian herd had vesicles on the snout and coronary bands, tested negative for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), but positive for SVA. In a report issued following whole-genome phylogenetic analysis, it was indicated the Colombian strain clusters most closely with the contemporary strain from the US.**
Dr. Douglas Marthaler, associate professor in the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been involved in the testing of samples from Colombia as the effort to determine its source continues. “The swine industry in Colombia is just as concerned about disease outbreak and spread as the US industry,” he stated. “In this case, the client wanted an answer since the pigs were negative for FMD. This led to work with collaborators to figure out the cause of clinical disease.”
While SVA is present around the world, much is unknown about its transmission and persistence. “As the virus is discovered in other countries, we need to understand transmission and the genetic relationship between the global strains,” Dr. Marthaler remarked. “The genetic sequence is important to understand and determine if or when strains emerge in any country, including the US.” The affected farm in Colombia had relatively strict biosecurity protocols, was PRRS negative, and was located five kilometers from the nearest pig farm; they were not expecting a disease break from any virus.
As a result of the discovery of SVA in Colombia, much due diligence by the industry, practitioners and farmers is underway as all wish to maintain and protect the health of animals. “Never underestimate the ability of these pathogens to keep throwing us for a loop,” Dr. Marthaler noted. “Understanding disease emergence and genetic relationship on the global level helps us protect US swine herds.” Identification of the virus is the first step, in his opinion, followed by sequencing to help understand viral variation and spread.
Dr. Linhares shares the same urgency. “The earlier we detect foreign animal disease, the better our chances to manage or eliminate it,” he explained. “In this country in the swine industry, we move 1 million pigs daily. That means, if we delay detection, in a period of a few weeks a virus will be spread and way more expensive to manage or eliminate.” His encouragement is for effective surveillance systems. “We must detect as early as we can, respond as early as we can and be cost effective,” he concluded.
**Source: Sun D, Vannucci F, Knutson TP, Corzo C, Marthaler DG. Emergence and whole-genome sequence of Senecavirus A in Colombia. Transbound Emerg Dis. 2017;00:1–4. https://doi.org/10.1111/tbed.12669
After reviewing preproposals, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) has now issued a call for full proposals for 2017 Swine Disease Matrix Research to those selected for consideration. Research projects in the current call are to focus on the development and validation of antibody detection assays for antibodies important for monitoring for emerging diseases, determining freedom from disease (after an outbreak), or defining the extent of disease spread.
Organizing and funding the research needed for diagnostic and informational preparedness for the prioritized, potential production diseases of the Swine Disease Matrix is a core activity of the Center. Research results will provide additional tools for producers and practitioners, resulting in better health of the US swine herd.
Specifically, research outcome should be assays with a consistent and reliable means to screen populations using:
• the ability to detect antibody in sera and oral fluids
• high throughput capacity (high volume of samples and quick turnaround time)
• DIVA capability if vaccine availability justifies the need for a DIVA assay
SHIC released an updated Swine Disease Matrix in April 2017. In collaboration with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council, SHIC developed and prioritized this list of endemic and foreign swine pathogens. The Matrix gives the ability for an assessment of the diagnostic capabilities for selected pathogens, based on a review of available literature.
Full proposals will be submitted by August 9, 2017, with review by SHIC immediately following submission. Click here for the full language of the call for proposal and proposal details. Please contact Dr. Paul Sundberg, SHIC Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Veterinarians and pork producers need a communications strategy when emerging disease arises – a clear plan for who to contact. Beyond the veterinarian’s diagnostic work and the producer’s care for the affected herd, sharing information will help to protect the health of the US herd.
The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) initiated the development of a communication process that provides for confidentiality of the producer or veterinarian making initial calls about an emerging disease. Any actions because of those calls will maintain confidentiality to the level requested by the producer or veterinarian unless state or federal swine health regulations dictate otherwise.
According to 9 CFR 161.4, “Standards for Accredited Veterinarian Duties,” accredited veterinarians are responsible for reporting to the Veterinarian-in-Charge and the State Animal Health Official all diagnosed or suspected cases of a communicable animal disease for which APHIS has a control or eradication program in 9 CFR chapter I, and all diagnosed or suspected cases of any animal disease not known to exist in the United States.
Per the SHIC-driven communications strategy, as a disease is addressed on the farm, the veterinarian will examine the animals and, if needed, submit tissues to a veterinary diagnostic lab for investigation or confirmation. If a clear diagnosis is not determined, resources are available through SHIC’s Diagnostic Fee Support process for further investigation.
Should these diagnostics point to a new or emerging pathogen, producers and/or their veterinarians can contact a veterinarian with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council or SHIC. Together these experts will work with producers and their teams to coordinate response options.
This communications plan provides a structure for sharing information, informing industry stakeholders, engaging resources, and assuring the US swine herd is protected. For more information, contact SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg at (515) 598-4553 or email@example.com.
In cases of high or ongoing morbidity or mortality, where cause is either not identified or diagnosis is questionable, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) may be able to help pay for further diagnostic work.
Because there is risk of missing an emerging disease if a definitive diagnosis is not pursued diligently, SHIC recognized limitations on resources may be a barrier and developed this program to assist at the production level for the benefit of the national herd.
To qualify for fee assistance, the diagnostician of the case needs to initiate the process and the following requirements must be met:
1. Case involves high or ongoing morbidity or mortality
2. Routine diagnostics matching the clinical presentation have been completed
3. Results of routine diagnostics are unsatisfactory due to veterinarian’s clinical judgment or lack of identified cause
The process includes forms available online at www.swinehealth.org/diagnostic-fees-diagnosticians-form and maintaining appropriate producer confidentiality according to the producer direction or state or federal animal health regulations.
1. The originating diagnostician will submit the online form to a panel of diagnosticians for review
2. SHIC will confirm the state animal health officer has been informed and a decision on initiating a foreign animal disease investigation has been considered
3. The originating diagnostician is responsible for providing a case record including verifying the submitting producer or veterinarian has given permission for further testing
4. The SHIC Diagnostician Panel will contact the originating diagnostician within 48 hours with a written report of further test recommendations
5. The originating diagnostician does follow up with a report of the test results to the Panel and is responsible for generating a final report to the submitter, Diagnostician Panel, and SHIC
6. When the final report is accepted, SHIC will pay the additional diagnostic fees
When questions are more plentiful than resources for diagnostic work, SHIC can help! For more information, contact SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg at (515) 598-4553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.