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Partnering for Influenza Virus Surveillance

The Pork Checkoff, in cooperation with the National Pork Producers Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and participating diagnostic laboratories, have begun a new initiative to encourage pork producers to participate in influenza virus surveillance in their pigs. The goals?

  • Gather more information to help develop effective vaccines for swine influenza virus (SIV) in the future,
  • Improve the reliability of diagnostic testing; and
  • Help improve overall herd health for all producers.
The plan, outlined in the accompanying brochure, was developed over the last few months with input from the groups mentioned above, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In part, the collaboration was enhanced by the circulation of H1N1 in 2009 in both pigs and people. The intended outcome is to offer producers a way to participate in a surveillance program that provides a new mechanism for government support of surveillance priorities as set by producers.
“This surveillance system for influenza reflects producers’ interests while laying the groundwork for consolidating individual disease surveillance systems in an efficient and beneficial way,” said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the Pork Checkoff. “It also demonstrates the good communication and cooperation that exists among government agencies and the pork industry to move this type of initiative forward.”

Efficiencies Gained; Anonymous by Default

“It became clear that a surveillance plan for SIV could be a first step toward a bigger goal of combining current disease surveillance (Pseudorabies, Classical Swine Fever, Brucellosis) with surveillance for other diseases of interest to U.S. pork producers,” Sundberg said. “The goal is to fold animal health priorities for the U.S. pork industry into a comprehensive and integrated swine health surveillance system.”
With surveillance testing results stripped of any producer or veterinarian identification, diagnostic results of the new influenza surveillance will only be known by state of origin unless a producer asks in writing for farm and owner identification to be included in the results. Doing so would serve as a way to increase the ability to track and understand influenza virus movement. All costs for the surveillance program and associated testing will be covered by USDA.

Comprehensive surveillance that includes government and industry surveillance priorities also calls for using one sample for multiple surveillance program tests, saving enough money to fund the additional testing. Samples can come from multiple gathering methods, including diagnostic lab submissions and samples collected from animals clinically ill at points of concentration, such as fairs and exhibitions.

Influenza samples can be included in the surveillance plan if they meet one of two criteria:

       The samples are submitted to a veterinary diagnostic lab from clinically ill pigs.

       The samples are collected at points of concentration or commingling, such as markets, fairs, exhibitions and auctions, from swine exhibiting influenza-like illness.

Also, influenza strains collected from swine linked to a confirmed isolation of SIV in a case of human infection will be added to the surveillance database with the permission of the owner.
Anonymous Database to Aid Future Vaccine Development
Diagnostic results of the new influenza surveillance will only be known by state of origin unless a producer asks in writing for farm and owner identification to be included in the results. Otherwise, all samples will be contained in an anonymous USDA surveillance database that only identifies a sample by date collected, state where it was collected, age of the swine collected, reason for collection or clinical signs and all SIV testing results.
“This approach to influenza surveillance is designed to provide assurances to producers so they can be comfortable with participating in the program,” said Lisa Becton, Checkoff’s director of swine health. “It’s our hope that with more samples collected for the surveillance system, future vaccines and herd-health protocols can be improved to offer more disease protection at the farm and national level. Also, this surveillance should help protect our international trade.”

To learn more about swine influenza surveillance, read the Pork Checkoff Report Special Edition newsletter. Also, check out the new brochure, Producer Guide to Influenza Surveillance in Pigs.



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