SHIC-Funded Study Examines Biosecurity of International Genetics Transport

The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) continues to fund investigation into possible pathways of foreign animal disease into the US. A recently completed SHIC-funded study looked at international transportation biosecurity practices of four cooperating US breeding stock companies. One question of high interest was about the possibility of transport crates being reused after exposure in another country and returning something other than pigs back into the US. In the process they found crates are not reused and are marked as “one-use” due to swine health biosecurity concerns. Investigators also found participating breeding stock companies have robust biosecurity procedures for both import/exports due to their investment in maintaining the health status of these pigs. Additionally, they discovered exports/imports are frequent, however, imports from outside North America occur less often. The complete research report can be found here. This study had two primary objectives. The first was to determine the frequency of international breeding-stock exports or imports and their country of destination and/or origin as well as, the second, to characterize the procedures currently implemented by breeding stock companies during the export or import processes. Based on official USDA records, between 2007 and 2018, a total of 839,152 pigs (e.g., gilts or boars) were imported into the US. Most of these pigs originated from Canada, while less than 3% were imported from Western Europe. On the other hand, breeding pig exports accounted for 382,118 pigs between 2007 and 2018 with Asia being the main destination (54.0%), followed by Mexico (31.3%), and South America (5.7%). A total of eight breeding stock companies were invited to participate in this study with half accepting the invitation and sharing import/export protocols. Participating breeding stock companies shared their procedures related to exports and/or imports as relevant to their business. Because these companies need to comply with USDA regulations, along with their interest in delivering high health animals, processes were standard across companies with minimal differences due to having strict biosecurity procedures. The results of this descriptive study clearly show that breeding-stock imports/exports play an important role in the industry. Export procedures seem to represent low risk as potentially contaminated fomites related to these exports do not return to the US. And US breeding stock companies maintain and follow appropriate biosecurity protocols. 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 or contact Dr. Paul Sundberg at [email protected].