SHIC 2021 Plan of Work Builds on Progress and Adds New Emphases

The Swine Health Information Center’s (SHIC) 2021 Plan of Work (POW) was approved by the SHIC Board of Directors during their January 28, 2021, meeting. While SHIC’s mission remains unchanged since inception, this annual review of projects and priorities directs actions. The POW is divided into sections addressing SHIC’s priorities surrounding information sharing, risk mitigation, response, and surveillance with significant activities planned in each category. Find the entire POW here.

The Swine Disease Reporting System (SDRS) takes advantage of major veterinary diagnostic laboratories’ willingness to share information and the SHIC-supported infrastructure to enable it. The 2013 PED outbreak experience showed that negative diagnostic tests associated with syndromic information could be an early indication of an emerging disease.  During 2021, further compilation and analysis of negative diagnostic tests results and associated syndromic information will be explored.  Also, the SDRS will investigate if connecting grow-finish diagnostics with sow farm disease could be a predictor of sow farm disease outbreaks.

During 2020, SHIC partnered with other industry organizations for a comprehensive review of the diverse but interdependent components of national biosecurity. Border protection, pig and sow movements, first points of concentration for pigs and sows, feed safety, vaccines and other common inputs, state and federal movement and health regulations, and others, are all pieces of US national pork industry biosecurity. Results realized in 2021 will focus on ensuring effectiveness of the highest priorities first and funds may be needed to support addressing identified vulnerabilities. 

SHIC, with co-sponsor American Association of Swine Veterinarians, plans to offer four to six current topic webinars. The objective of these webinars, continuation of a 2020 program, is to “keep pace with industry chatter” about health challenges. Veterinarians may be challenged with diseases or clinical conditions for which information about management or control might be limited. Sharing experiences and response options will foster communication and inform discussion about best management practices.

The Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project (MSHMP) will continue to help to identify industry needs through the input from the project’s participants and other sources in 2021. New efforts will be made to make the shared information more actionable and specific analysis projects mining the data will be supported to return value to the pork industry.

Enhancing the Global Swine Disease Monitoring Report to enhance understanding of disease status in countries around the world is a 2021 priority for SHIC.

Because USDA and FDA consider pathogen transport via imported feed products to be an unlikely risk because of limited objective information, data will be gathered to support an objective risk assessment. The projects will also evaluate cost-effective mitigation techniques and strategies. 

Pathogen transfer back to the farm from first points of concentration continues to challenge producer opportunity for profit and will risk emerging or foreign animal disease control. Innovative, cost-effective solutions to minimize this transfer will be studied thanks to SHIC funding and direction.

In 2021, SHIC work will focus on grow-finishing sites’ bioexclusion practices to validate and rank options which will help protect the site’s swine health as well as neighboring farms and regions from emerging disease outbreaks. Also, biocontainment or decreasing the amount of pathogens leaving an outbreak site will help to protect neighboring farms and regions from emerging disease outbreaks. So SHIC’s work during 2021 will include assessing existing technologies or new ideas for cost-effective ways to help inform producers about biocontainment decisions.

Effort to refine and enhance the Rapid Response Corps program will continue in 2021. An industry standard for an outbreak investigation instrument will give the industry an opportunity to analyze data for proactive risk identification instead of having wide disparity in individual retrospective responses to disease introduction. An advisory group will be formed to define the need and content of a standardized outbreak investigation instrument. 

There is no predicting when or where the next emerging disease will appear. SHIC needs to be prepared with funds in place that can be quickly mobilized to support filling the immediate research gaps following an introduction. This research will provide producers and their veterinarians with critical information that they will need to effectively respond to the disease outbreak.

Another 2021 SHIC project will assess the effectiveness of sanitation and decontamination protocols. It will be an important question to answer in preparation for effective response to a foreign animal disease. For example, cost-effective, validated plans for disinfection of sites after an African swine fever (ASF) depopulation will be needed to repopulate the site with confidence. 

SHIC will continue to offer diagnostic fee support to help detect emerging diseases in 2021. There continues to be incidents of high morbidity/high mortality where an etiology is either not identified or there is a strong supposition that the identified pathogen is not the likely cause of the outbreak. Support for these follow up diagnostic workups – to ensure that a new or emerging disease won’t be missed – will be available after producers have funded the initial diagnostics. 

Building on previous SHIC support for investigating spatially balanced surveillance models, the next step is to evaluate the application of spatially balanced surveillance using contemporary – or next generation – surveillance sampling. This work will fill the gap of looking at a novel surveillance scheme for “non-positive” areas after an ASF or other transboundary or foreign animal disease outbreak.

Veterinary diagnostic labs find novel viruses in the Swine Viral Disease Matrix being associated with clinical disease syndromes. Better understanding these agents’ epidemiology and pathogenicity are important to identifying if they have a role in clinical disease and will be sought in 2021.

Each priority serves the goals expressed in the SHIC mission statement: The mission of the Swine Health Information Center 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. Input for the Plan of Work is always welcome as SHIC seeks to be quickly responsive to industry needs and issues. Reach out to SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg at [email protected].

As the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, SHIC continues to focus efforts on prevention, preparedness, and response to novel and emerging swine disease for the benefit of US swine health. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research. Forward, reprint, and quote SHIC material freely. SHIC is funded by America’s pork producers to fulfill its mission to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Sundberg at [email protected].