Special Announcement: Fifth Case of ASF in China
August 30, 2018
Pork Industry Focuses on Feed Ingredients to Combat African Swine Fever Threat
September 4, 2018
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September 2018 SHIC eNewsletter

Pork Industry Focuses on Feed Ingredients to Combat African Swine Fever Threat
September Global Disease Monitoring Report
AASV, NPB, NPPC, and SHIC Work with USDA on ASF Prevention and Response
SHIC: Assessing the Needs, Funding the Projects, Answering the Problems - Chinese PRV Preparedness
Preparedness and Response Working Group Oversees Swine Disease Matrix and Response Program
September Domestic Disease Monitoring Report

Pork Industry Focuses on Feed Ingredients to Combat African Swine Fever Threat


Global Disease Monitoring Report


AASV, NPB, NPPC, and SHIC Work with USDA on ASF Prevention and Response


SHIC: Assessing the Needs, Funding the Projects, Answering the Problems – Chinese PRV Preparedness


Preparedness and Response Working Group Oversees Swine Disease Matrix and Response Program


September Domestic Disease Monitoring Report


Funded by America’s pork producers to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd, the Swine Health Information Center focuses its efforts on prevention, preparedness, and response. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research for the benefit of swine health. Forward, reprint, and quote SHIC material freely. For more information, visit https://www.swinehealth.org or contact Dr. Paul Sundberg at psundberg@swinehealth.org.

Pork Industry Focuses on Feed Ingredients to Combat African Swine Fever Threat

Producers urged to ask questions of feed suppliers

With the expansion of the current outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in China, the National Pork Board, along with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), are working even more closely together to help keep the United States free of ASF and all other foreign animal diseases (FADs). This includes focusing on the importation of feed ingredients, a key area of potential high risk of disease transport.

“Keeping trade-limiting foreign animal diseases, such as ASF, out of the United States is critical to pork producers,” said Steve Rommereim, National Pork Board president and a producer from Alcester, South Dakota. “We all need to improve the overall level of FAD preparedness. We hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst.”

Thanks to Checkoff-funded research conducted after the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), swine industry experts now have some peer-reviewed science to rely on when looking at ways to mitigate the current risk posed by ASF in China and other countries. This includes work done on imported feed ingredients.

“Research has demonstrated the ability for certain feed ingredients to support viral survival during conditions modeled after either trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific shipping to U.S. ports and on to locations likely to manufacture feed for swine,” said Paul Sundberg, DVM, director of the Swine Health Information Center. “For this reason, we want the entire U.S. pork industry to look at this research and consider ways that it can help us prevent a FAD from entering this country through this route.”

SHIC-funded research cited by Sundberg shows that viruses do have the potential to travel long distances via feed ingredients, which proves the theoretical ability of a foreign animal disease pathogen to reach U.S. shores. To help prevent this potential risk from becoming a reality, swine industry experts have compiled these seven critical points for pig farmers to raise with their feed and feed ingredient suppliers with the objective of starting a dialog about feed ingredient safety. The development of these points was to help start the discussion about feed and feed ingredient risk was done with review and input by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), Kansas State University and the University of Minnesota. Some points will apply to producers’ immediate feed suppliers and some will apply to feed ingredient suppliers.

  1. Describe the facility’s biosecurity program to minimize the spread of pathogens from people, vehicles and ingredients.
  2. Describe the facility’s employee training on feed safety.
  3. Describe the facility’s pest control program.
  4. Describe the facility’s traceability program.
  5. Describe the facility’s supplier approval program.
  6. Is the facility certified by a third-party certification body for food safety? Third-party certification programs may include the Feed Additives Manufacturers (FAMI-QS), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Safe Quality Food (SQF), Safe Feed/Safe Food, etc.
  7. Does the facility utilize ingredients that were manufactured or packaged outside of the United States?

To get a better handle on your particular farm’s risk of FAD transport via a feed ingredient, Sundberg advises producers to use the newly developed virus transport in feed ingredients decision tree matrix. “It was developed to help pork producers work with their feed suppliers to minimize risk from feed ingredients,” he said.

Aside from the specific feed-related questions to improve on-farm biosecurity, Dave Pyburn, DVM, vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff, advises producers to review the Foreign Animal Disease Checklist that is offered at pork.org/FAD.  “By going through the items on this list, you can improve your biosecurity plan and prepare to register for the voluntary Secure Pork Supply plan (see securepork.org), which will help participants maintain business continuity in the event of a FAD,” he said.

As a delegation from National Pork Board, NPPC, AASV and SHIC and USDA officials, including U.S. Chief Veterinary Officer Jack Shere, convene this week in Washington, D.C., for a meeting hosted by NPPC, optimism remains high that a renewed and collaborative effort will help protect America’s pig farmers and the entire industry from the current threat posed by ASF and all FADs

“I’m very encouraged to see how well our industry groups have come together during this time of heightened awareness of foreign animal disease threat to our industry,” Rommereim said. “It’s reassuring to know that we are using our collective resources to work with USDA to help put real measures in place that can help protect our farms from this potentially devastating disease threat. However, as always, it’s up to each of us to do our part to proactively protect our farms from outside threats as we strive to do what’s right for people, pigs and the planet.”

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, losses from ASF could total as much as $8 billion for the pork industry in year one alone. That doesn’t include related losses of $4 billion and $1.5 billion for the affected input commodities of corn and soybeans, respectively.

Global Disease Monitoring Report

August was a challenging month to the swine industry, as we saw a growing number of new outbreaks of African swine fever, including its expansion to Asia with China reporting its first case. Also, the continued westward spread was observed with Bulgaria reporting its first case, while Romania is struggling to control the epidemic. Only China and Romania together have officially reported culling 180,000 pigs during this month. Of particular significance, South Korea first identified the virus being transported out of China in pork products. Though the virus was probably dead due to cooking, it increases attention on the likelihood of such transport on airlines is only expanding as the outbreak widens. The current situation creates an alert to the international trade of pork, and many countries are revising their commercial agreements with affected countries.

Read the Report

Disclaimer: It is expected that this trend of ASF outbreaks will continue, thus we will no longer release announcements of individual outbreaks. Updates will be released if something pertinent to the US pork producers occurs. Compiled summaries will be released every other week.

AASV, NPB, NPPC, and SHIC Work with USDA on ASF Prevention and Response

The pork industry organizations have developed a list of actions that could help prevent and then, if needed, respond to an African swine fever (ASF) incursion. They have been shared with USDA; collaborative work and further discussion about them is ongoing. Prevention initiatives are prioritized because of urgency above response initiatives. With the best information currently available, and until we learn more, extreme caution should be taken when considering hosting someone on US farms from an ASF, or another foreign animal disease, positive region of the world. If it is needed, the USDA Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on Plum Island requires a 5-day downtime for anyone planning to have contact with susceptible species after working with diseases and animals on the island. {Source: AASV, NPB, NPPC & SHIC; August 22, 2018]

These industry organizations and USDA agree that prevention could be enhanced by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) ensuring flights from China and Russia get enhanced passenger and cargo inspection attention. USDA has made a request to that effect to CBP. Sampling and monitoring of imported products that might pose a risk of ASF transmission is also being considered.

Collaboration can help to address concerns about potential risk associated with feed and feed component imports. We know from research conducted by Dr. Scott Dee, et al. that certain feedstuffs are able to support ASF during a simulated trans-Pacific shipment. A validated method to test bulk feed products and applying it to monitoring shipments for pathogen contamination has been funded by SHIC and is currently being researched. Also, currently being researched with results expected soon are feed pathogen mitigation options. Feed additives, component holding time and temperature before processing, Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls, and blockchain are being investigated with urgency.

The USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health’s Risk Identification Unit (RIU) is monitoring diseases around the world, including China. Increased, regular communication through contact or reports is another action that could enhance prevention through raising awareness. This provides a vehicle for two-way communication to provide information from industry sources to RIU and for RIU to provide the most up-to-date information they have back to industry.

The Swine Health Protection Act gives USDA-APHIS regulatory authority for compliance inspections for licensed food waste feeders and searches for non-licensed waste feeding facilities. The organizations are sharing their request for increased inspections and searches.

The inspection and compliance processes for imported pork casings and other food products is another topic of discussion. While USDA does not allow the import of casings originating in ASF positive regions, the risk of US origin casings that have been sorted in China and returned to the US is being considered. Evaluation of all imports coming from China to assess their potential to be used in the pork supply chain is underway. An updated risk assessment for ASF entry into the US from China, including prioritizing risk from those products identified, needs to be developed.

Response initiatives include a survey of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) for their surge capacity should the industry need ASF testing to identify issues or shortcomings. USDA is already conducting the survey.

A project to validate a PCR test for ASF – and foot and mouth disease (FMD) and classical swine fever (CSF) – on oral fluids has been underway for over a year. Only whole blood is currently validated for ASF surveillance via PCR testing. Diagnostic capabilities need to be updated. And response capability needs to be able to be applied at the herd level.

ASF-specific emergency response exercises are being planned, including allied industry, NAHLN and state and federal animal health officials participation. And response and communication coordination with Canada and Mexico are additional items being discussed and have already been initiated by USDA.

ASF control in China will be extremely difficult, if even possible. The Chinese pork industry has had difficulties in controlling FMD and CSF and has relied heavily on the use of vaccines. As a vaccine is not available for ASF, the industry is thus reliant on heightened biosecurity, rapid diagnosis, complete isolation, and then elimination of infected pigs and contaminated materials. US plans for prevention and response have to be considered to be long-term adjustments to the biosecurity of our national herd.

SHIC: Assessing the Needs, Funding the Projects, Answering the Problems – Chinese PRV Preparedness

Early detection and understanding sources of pseudorabies virus (PRV) are essential to contain spread and prevent economic losses, should the virus arrive in the US.  US PRV surveillance now relies on antibody detection.  However early response will need to have nucleic acid detection (PCR) to enable detection of the virus right away in clinical tissues sent to veterinary diagnostic labs (VDLs). The National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) VDLs currently don’t have the direct ability to detect PRV in submitted clinical tissues with a validated PCR. When this was discovered, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) worked with other industry organizations and the National Pork Board (NPB) Swine Health Committee to develop a foundation for action.  Availability of a new PCR test, developed with funding from SHIC, to discern classical PRV from the variant high path Chinese strain strengthens the US pork industry’s ability to respond quickly and effectively.

Action on behalf of the pork industry began when a member of the SHIC Monitoring and Analysis Working Group raised concern over the inability of VDLs to run a validated PCR test for PRV. SHIC coordinated with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, and National Pork Producers Council to hold a call with NAHLN and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories to initiate a discussion and gather information. They confirmed NAHLN labs don’t currently have a validated PCR test for PRV available to them.

SHIC then shared this information with the NPB Swine Health Committee, which passed a resolution calling for USDA to prepare NAHLN labs for the possibility of PRV infection and outbreak. Citing the need for prompt detection of emerging or newly introduced swine diseases for effective response, the Committee also noted PRV was eradicated from domestic swine in 2004 when vaccination was discontinued, leaving the US herd vulnerable. The virulent strain of PRV in China, different than the version eradicated in the US, emerged in Asia in 2011 where it is causing high morbidity and mortality still today. PRV has also been shown to survive in feed components shipped from China, a potential path for introduction in the US. In their resolution, the Committee said it believes there is a rational urgency for this preparation and calls for providing access to reagents for PRV DNA detection, proficiency testing to assure their reliable use, and validation of their use with swine oral fluids.

In 2016, SHIC funded, at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, development of a PCR test able to differentiate between PRV strains – the high path strain circulating in China, the strain eradicated from the US, and the strain still in US feral swine. The newly developed PRV assay is highly sensitive and specific and was able to detect as low as one infectious PRV particle in a sample while discerning between the variant and classical strains.

The assay was validated using nasal swabs, oral swabs, whole blood, serum, and tissues at the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and at the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory. Specificity of the assay was further confirmed by testing over 300 clinical samples (serum, tissues, and swabs) collected from Canadian and US herds.

It is a part of SHIC’s mission to protect and enhance the health of the United States swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring and targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats. This PCR test was validated using laboratory and clinical samples and will be submitted to NAHLN for consideration by their technical working group for distribution to the labs. While this will be a step-wise process, SHIC proactively contributed to the capability of the industry to address a potential threat through development of the PCR for PRV and taking action on this vulnerability.

In incidents of high or ongoing morbidity or mortality, where an etiology is either not identified or there is a strong suspicion that the identified etiology is not the likely cause of the outbreak, SHIC continues to offer diagnostic fee support after the initial diagnostic workup is completed and paid for by the owner. In these cases, additional support for the fees of further diagnostic workup may help to identify newly introduced or emerging swine diseases. Find a description of the requirements, submission and review process for the Support for Diagnostic Fees Program on the SHIC website.

Preparedness and Response Working Group Oversees Swine Disease Matrix and Response Program

Part 3 of 3 on SHIC’s operating structure. (Read part 1 here and part 2 here.)

The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Preparedness and Response Working Group is charged with oversight of the Swine Disease Matrix and other preparedness or response research. It reviews the analysis of the Matrix capabilities and is responsible for funding research to fulfill Matrix objectives. With high levels of attention and concern in the pork industry over African swine fever (ASF), the role of this group in preparedness rises to greater levels due to a new threat being monitored in China and Romania.

Members of this Working Group include allied industry representation, creating a unique mix with veterinarians, researchers, and academicians. By combining these experts to help review the science and collaborate, more focus is put on solutions rather than duplication of effort while seeking the same goal for the US pork industry.

This group is also responsible for advising and oversight of SHIC’s role in the emerging swine diseases response plan. That includes the roles and responsibilities of Rapid Response Team deployment in response to an emerging swine health disease and for the information and analysis necessary to support the appropriate pork producer and pork industry response to emerging swine diseases.

Dr. Gene Erickson, retired USDA and North Carolina State diagnostic lab expert, chairs SHIC’s Preparedness and Response Working Group. With advanced training in veterinary microbiology, Dr Erickson’s career included response to outbreaks of disease of unknown origin. As part of the SHIC Preparedness and Response Working Group, Dr. Erickson and fellow group members are charged with development of an extensive program for herd evaluation in the event of such outbreaks.

“One of the things SHIC focuses on is preparedness; having the diagnostic tools to act rapidly to try to contain or control anything might be introduced as a new disease,” he stated. “I appreciate so much the opportunity to work with this fantastic group of people. It’s so rewarding to be involved and try to help this industry.”

Dr. Erickson, whose father showed a grand champion boar at their county fair, has held a long-time focus on caring for and protecting the pork population in the US. “When I was young in my career and working with farmers and animal caretakers, working with virtually all livestock species, one livestock specialist was instrumental in explaining to me the intelligence and intuitiveness of the pig. I really found over the years great appreciation for this animal species, trying to maximize the health of the US swine herd,” he remarked.

Dr. Erickson expects the Preparedness and Response Working Group to be proactive and prepared for issues threatening the US herd due to ease of transportation today. For example, he cites feed studies done with SHIC’s funding, and other support, and input as key resources. “It’s really important, as we look at current multiple outbreaks of African swine fever in China, to understand the risks those outbreaks pose to us domestically and the potential introduction of the disease,” he said.

Additionally, the Preparedness and Response Working Group collaboratively manages the Swine Disease Matrix. The process involved evaluation of both viral and bacterial disease, active and inactive disease, and prioritization of them. Because of the breadth of experience and perspective offered by the group, the end result is a valuable resource for the industry.

The Preparedness and Response Working Group uses the Swine Disease Matrix to then consider the highest ranked diseases and focus on tools needed for diagnostics and detection. One goal is to assure that diagnostic tools developed for the Swine Disease Matrix are specific, sensitive and reliable diagnostic tools, and that those tools are compatible for use in US veterinary diagnostic labs. The group has reviewed research proposals to develop detection methods and antibody tests for high risk viruses.

“The people of the Preparedness and Response Working Group make an excellent team,” Dr. Erickson stated. “I feel very good about the work we’re doing. And the two Working Groups mesh together so well. The Monitoring and Analysis Group is the eyes and ears for SHIC, looking across the globe as new risks emerge. That information is what the Preparedness and Response Group works from to build the tools needed to respond to an emerging or transboundary disease.”

SHIC’s Working Groups serve the industry with integrity and an incredible combination of training, experience, and passion for protecting the health of the US swine herd.

September Domestic Disease Monitoring Report

The September Domestic Disease Monitoring Report shows porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is at predicted values for the summer while porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) is moving toward predicted values. Regarding central nervous system agents, Streptococcus suis was the major one detected this summer. It was noted Haemophilus parasuis slightly increased detection when compared with previous years. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, Influenza A virus, and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae were the three major agents detected on respiratory cases this summer. Mycoplasma hyorhinis appears one of the more frequent agents detected this summer, perhaps due recent increase in requests for testing along with more accurate coding for the information by diagnosticians. The combination Haemophilus parasuis and Mycoplasma hyorhinis has increased in 2018 when compared to 2016 and 2017.

Rotavirus, PEDV, Lawsonia intracellularis, E. coli, and Salmonella sp. are the most frequent agents detected on enteric tissue this summer. Since the introduction of PEDV, the overall number of enteric cases testing positive increased over time. With the introduction of PEDV in 2013 and PDCoV in 2014 to the US swine industry, the dynamic of detection of enteric agents changed significantly. Transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus has been practically undetected on enteric tissue since 2013. Also, the proportion of Brachyspira spp cases has decreased, perhaps due to improvements on biosecurity and implementation of programs to control and eliminate the pathogen in production systems. This summer, Rotavirus and E. coli, followed by Rotavirus and PEDV, were the most frequent agent detected with multiple occurrence on enteric tissue.