The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) asked Dan Sutherland, a swine industry veteran with years of experience in secondary marketing, to write a review of this process. Ongoing outbreaks of Senecavirus A (SVA or Seneca Valley Virus) continue to tax the resources of producers and their veterinarians, state and federal animal health officials, and sow and pig markets as each incident demands investigation to confirm it is not Foot and Mount Disease. The goal of the SHIC funded review was to gather information on the scope of these markets for better surveillance, biocontainment, and other risk mitigation protocols for the future.
Biosecurity and biocontainment have become standard protocols on swine farms as threats of emerging and foreign animal diseases have impacted production. For all the progress made, gaps still exist within production and marketing systems creating concern for individual producers and the national herd.
Sutherland said biosecurity and biocontainment can be difficult in secondary market. Trucks, animals, and people flow in and out of these markets, opening channels for disease transmission. Producers ship to the cull market using the most efficient and convenient timing and methods for their staff and transportation options, sometimes sacrificing biosecurity in the process.
The relatively low number of animals in the secondary market means animals can stay at buying stations or collection points for as long as a week when buyers are seeking a large enough group of similar pigs to fill an order. Though a buyer’s goal is to have the pigs at these points for as short as time as possible, reality is the collection of animals can become a concern.
Most culls and secondary market pigs are sold through a dealer network. Their mission is gathering the numbers needed to efficiently market hogs into many different channels within each category. Dealer networks vary in location and can be a significant distance from the farm so transportation time becomes an issue. In high hog density regions, fewer stations may be needed. When production is more remote, more drop-off points are required to collect the number of animals necessary to fill orders. In some cases, hogs may move 1,500 miles or more to get to market.
A challenge is animal tracking because, in the event of disease outbreak, needed information must be available. USDA requires sow and boar identification. An ear tag system lists only premises identification numbers and cannot be removed until the animal passes post mortem inspection.
The challenges of the secondary market are clear and with greater understanding of the channels, SHIC hopes to improve management of disease transmission and identify risks associated with foreign animal disease outbreak in these animals.
The entire Sutherland review can be read here. Sutherland spent a decade as an order buyer/dealer and 34 years as a packer buyer in a system including auctions and private buying stations for the secondary market.
In 1999, the Swine Futures Project identified emerging animal diseases as an area needing more attention. While the need was clear, no one worked toward an industry-led, coordinated response solution until recently. In June, representatives of the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), National Pork Board (NPB), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), USDA, state animal health officials (SAHOs), and producers for the first meeting of the Swine Disease Response Council (SDRC) to fill this need.
While some regulated diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever, Pseudorabies and African Swine Fever have a regulatory process for response, unregulated emerging diseases do not. The SDRC looked at the model of the state-federal-industry coordinated response to pseudorabies virus during eradication to develop a program able to evolve in the response to emerging diseases.
The first phase is identifying the emerging disease challenge and, according to Dr. Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs at the National Pork Board, building tools to identify those challenges faster. If SHIC or any of the organizations identifies an emerging disease of significance, then the SDRC can be stood up to recommend next steps.
The SDRC’s core team is in the midst of training for a standardized approach for addressing emerging, non-regulatory diseases threatening the U.S. swine herd, per Dr. Webb. When notified, the SDRC will analyze information from SHIC or any organization engaged in the process. The SDRC has no regulatory authority. Effective response to an emerging disease will rely on pork producers and their veterinarians voluntarily following the recommendations of the SDRC, which may be temporary in nature until more information is gathered.
Dr. Webb calls the SRDC response plan a cookbook. It will have the industry steps, options, and scenarios for responding to emerging disease threats. The response will be developed based on the information available about the outbreak.
Based on evidence presented, Dr. Webb said the SRDC will have three possible types of response.
The SRDC cookbook provides a range of recommendations that covers everything from continuing to monitor the status of the disease to aggressive research, diagnostics, and biologic or voluntary or mandatory stop movements.
As the SDRC continues to develop, the core team will practice more scenarios, use past experience, and engage new technologies to achieve its mission.
Dr. Webb as well as Dr. Paul Sundberg of SHIC, Dr. Liz Wagstrom of NPPC, and Dr. Harry Snelson of AASV are staff for SRDC at this phase of its development. Questions about SRDC can be directed to Dr. Webb at 515-223-3441 or [email protected].
When emerging swine disease arises, early communication about outbreaks is essential. Who do you call? Veterinarians and pork producers need to know who to contact and how to proceed in these events, beyond their diagnostic work and caring for the affected herd, so information can be used to protect the health of the US herd. A suggested communication strategy protects the confidentiality of the producer until permissions are given, provides the process to follow and outlines the resources available.
The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) initiated the development of the process which provides for confidentiality of the producer or veterinarian making initial calls. 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.
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 protected].
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:
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 [email protected].