SHIC Talk Podcast Offers ASF Update with AASV, NPB, NPPC

In the latest edition of SHIC Talk, SHIC Associate Director Dr. Megan Niederwerder is joined by NPPC Consultant Dr. Liz Wagstrom, AASV Executive Director Dr. Harry Snelson, and NPB Assistant Chief Veterinarian Dr. Patrick Webb, along with host Barbara Campbell Determan, to share an update on African swine fever. SHIC Talk, the podcast produced by the Swine Health Information Center, is available on the Center’s website and most podcast sources. It brings industry experts together to share their knowledge and pertinent information regarding swine health.  

Representatives of these industry organizations last shared an ASF update on SHIC Talk in May 2021. Over the last 15 months, the disease continued to spread to new regions in Europe and Asia then was detected on the island of Hispaniola in the western hemisphere. Exactly one year ago, the first case of ASF was identified in the Dominican Republic and soon thereafter in Haiti. Dr. Niederwerder pointed to the SHIC Disease Monitoring Reports as a resource for global ASF awareness, highlighting the first official reports of ASF detection in Thailand and mainland Italy occurring in January 2022.  

Significant progress in preparedness and prevention has been made in the US since May 2021, including the creation of an Industry ASF Strategy Work Group by NPB and NPPC’s Boards of Directors to unify ASF preparation and response efforts. This group developed priorities for a national ASF strategy which includes AASV, SHIC, and other allied industry groups. Dr. Wagstrom reviewed the six main priorities during the podcast.  

Additionally, significant efforts have been made to identify gaps in response capabilities and develop strategies and resources to address those gaps. Dr. Snelson pointed to the shortage in resources and personnel in the industry for an ASF response effort and shared information on the Certified Swine Sample Collector program now in the pilot phase of development. Goals include increasing the number of trained personnel proficient at sample collection in the event of an ASF outbreak.   

Dr. Webb offered information on AgView database dashboard technology where producers and state animal health officials are creating accounts which will enable them to communicate rapidly in the event of a FAD investigation or outbreak. Contributing to US preparedness is the continued increase in the number of AgView accounts and adoption of this contact-tracing technology.   

While awareness of ASF has risen in the US pork industry, there are areas where further work is needed. SHIC Talk participants said the US pork industry should be doing more FAD investigations and laboratory surveillance to increase our likelihood of early and rapid detection should ASF be introduced. Continued focus on farm biosecurity is necessary, including applying sow/breeding farm practices to grow-finish sites where vulnerabilities have been exposed. Interest remains high regarding feed biosecurity and how to mitigate those risks on the farm. Recognizing ASF may not always present with high death loss is important as a broad spectrum of clinical signs have been reported in the Dominican Republic. Broadening our testing protocols by using additional sample types would benefit surveillance capacity.  

As the participants in the podcast concluded their remarks, each shared a take home message for the US pork industry.

SHIC, launched by the National Pork Board in 2015 solely with Pork Checkoff funding, 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 http://www.swinehealth.org or contact Dr. Paul Sundberg at psundberg@swinehealth.org.