November 2017 SHIC eNewsletter

SHIC Monitoring Bat-Sourced Coronavirus Variant in China

The bat enteric coronavirus strain HKU2, identified in Guangdong and Hong Kong in 2004 and 2006, has recently moved from bats to pigs in China, causing severe piglet diarrhea and mortality. Some specific mutations in the spike protein of the novel virus, tentatively called swine enteric alphacoronavirus (SeACoV), are presumably responsible for it being able to jump from bats to pigs. The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) has gathered information to inform the SHIC Monitoring and Analysis Working Group and help them reach a consensus for guidance about next steps.

Published papers (available for review here and here) and contacts in China indicated there were several pig farms in one region suffering from piglet diarrhea in the first half of 2017, resulting in serious piglet loss. Affected piglets on two farms showed morbidity and mortality to the same extent as when PED reemerged there in 2010.

SHIC also reached out to allied industry for information on the outbreak in China. Chinese groups are continuing research, running deep sequencing on field samples and providing further resources and information on the outbreak as it is being monitored.

Because current information shows there has not yet been region to region spread in China, the SHIC Working Group arrived at a consensus that SHIC should closely monitor the situation but not devote resources for diagnostics or to further investigate this virus unless there develops evidence of interregional spread in China, indicating this is more than an isolated incident.

SHIC Funds Project to Develop a Model to Predict Disease Outbreaks

A novel approach to predicting disease risk will be developed and tested in a newly funded Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) project. Once the process is tested and verified, this innovative project will give producers and practitioners the opportunity to use their data to predict a change in disease risk that could lead to an outbreak. Armed with this information, they may be able to proactively prevent an outbreak or at least decrease its impact.

The University of Minnesota project could be the next evolutionary step for using data to affect animal health and disease outbreaks. The novel model will show how environmental, pig movement, neighbor disease status and other on-farm and neighborhood factors can help predict the risk of disease outbreaks. The model will then be applied to real world data so producers and their veterinarians can be aware and better prepared to prevent or respond.

This study will advance understanding of details affecting between-farm disease spread, including the relative importance of risk factors for sow farm breaks across time and space. Using already available PRRS/PED data to develop the model will bring a better understanding of how risk factors change across the landscape. It will help in managing those diseases as it is also developed for emerging diseases.

Project success will depend on the availability of the data. Cooperating producers and their practitioners are being identified and invited to participate. This project will also reinforce the value that can be achieved by sharing data and experiences across production systems and veterinary practices. The model will be developed, tested and verified before being applied to real-time data and reports produced.

Access SHIC Rapid Response Corps Training and Resources

Do you have an action plan to follow in the event of a disease outbreak? As part of the development of the Swine Health Information Center’s (SHIC) Rapid Response Program, several resources are now available online which may be useful in formulating your own response protocol.

Registration provides access to all materials. You can find them here. You are invited and encouraged to explore the resources which include:

While Rapids Response Corps members will be required to complete the online training, the materials are open to all who are interested in the Rapid Response Program or wish to grow their knowledge of epidemiological investigation and processes.

Need More Diagnostics? Short on Funds? SHIC Diagnostic Fee Support Can Help

In cases of high or ongoing morbidity or mortality, where cause is either not identified or diagnosis is questionable, SHIC may be able to help pay for further diagnostic work.

There is risk of missing an emerging disease if a definitive diagnosis is not pursued diligently. SHIC recognizes 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:

How Does the Process Work?

When questions are more plentiful than resources for diagnostic work, SHIC can help!

SHIC Facilitates Communication on Swine Disease Issues

The mission of the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) is to protect and enhance the health of the United States swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats, and analysis of swine health data. Equally as important is sharing this information with the US pork industry.

SHIC uses a variety of tools to share information including our own newsletter which you are reading now, regular submissions in the American Association of Swine Veterinarians weekly enewsletter, press releases and media interviews, as well as participation in industry events.

In this issue of the SHIC newsletter, for example, you read information on a bat-sourced coronavirus variant in China we are monitoring, get an update on our Rapid Response Corps training effort, learn about our disease outbreak model, and read a reminder on our diagnostic fee support program. You can help SHIC accomplish its mission by freely sharing information you receive from us to your colleagues so they are aware of our activities on their behalf.

Thank you for helping SHIC create and maintain a network for information sharing, all to benefit the US swine industry. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Paul Sundberg at [email protected].