Protecting the Hog Herd from FADs

Protecting the Hog Herd from FADs

National Pork Board (NPB) is collaborating with multiple governments and industry partners to protect the U.S. from foreign animal diseases (FADs), including African swine fever (ASF). Following the announcement of ASF detected in the Dominican Republic, NPB Acting Chief Veterinarian Patrick Webb says there are steps producers can do today to safeguard their herd from a potential FAD outbreak.

Producers should monitor for signs and symptoms of ASF, as Dr. Webb says it has similar symptoms as PRRS, salmonella, or circovirus.

“It’s important in monitoring their herd for African Swine Fever or for any other type of foreign animal disease and so, really, this is just a good gut check for producers who are already looking at their pigs every day but need to know what African Swine Fever looks like. you know, it can present with a high fever, the pigs might not want to be eating, or show that they’re weak. You can see some red blotchy skin lesions, they could have diarrhea and vomiting, or difficulty breathing or coughing, and these are signs that producers see periodically but really need to take a really good look at those type of signs and symptoms in those pigs, and if we start suspecting that we’ve got African swine fever in our herd, then man, we’ve got to get that reported to our state vet’s office as fast as possible.”

He emphasized all producers should connect with their veterinarians and state animal health professionals if they suspect a Foreign Animal Disease on their farm.

“We would really like them to call their herd veterinarian right away if they do suspect those things because the herd veterinarian has an established relationship with the state animal health officials in their state. And so that’s a good thing, and it may be that they can do the reporting for you and then you’re given specific instructions by the state vet’s office to do certain things while they wait for the foreign animal disease diagnostician to show up. If a producer doesn’t have ready access to their herd veterinarian, they can also report directly to their state vet’s office, there’s nothing to stop them from doing that, and then USDA also has a toll-free number that they can call that you can find on our pork checkoff.org five ways to protect pigs.  

An enhanced biosecurity plan is part of the Pork Checkoff-funded Secure Pork Supply business plan that will maintain business operations for the swine industry, including producers, haulers, and packers during an FAD outbreak.

“A way for producers that would be affected by, let’s say, being included in a control area where the state vets are trained to respond to a case of ASF. It’s a way for them to raise their hand and show that they’re different, and it’s based upon their enhanced biosecurity plan that’s site-specific for that particular site, and a set of protocols that producers will work from in order to be able to demonstrate that their farms, don’t have African Swine Fever. And so, participating in a state’s secure pork supply program is very important for the business continuity aspect of an emergency response. And so we’re encouraging all producers to participate in the secure pork supply and especially work to develop that site-specific enhanced biosecurity plan that’s so important, and would play a critical role in being able to move their pigs again in the case of an African swine fever outbreak in their area.”

Producers can register for a free AgView account at porkcheckoff.org/AgView. This opt-in technology promotes supplies confidential animal health and movement records to state and federal animal health professionals on day one of an FAD outbreak.

“It really does a nice job of what we call a contact tracing for pigs. So, if you think back to COVID where that could have been valuable in the human population, AgView makes it possible in the pig population. And AgView allows those producers who want to do pre-preparedness and get as prepared as possible to be in the best place to share the information about their premises, about their pig movements, about their secure pork supply plan and the compliance with the program, along with laboratory test results, sharing that with their state animal health official immediately upon request by the state animal health official In the case of an African Swine Fever outbreak.”