Swine Health Information Center 2018 Action Plan

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Dr. Paul Sundberg, who is the executive director of the Swine Health Information Center, outlines the 2018 plan of action. The Pork Checkoff is a partner in the development of the Swine Health Information Center


Don Wick


Dr. Paul Sundberg, Executive Director, Swine Health Information Center




Don Wick:  00:04  From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod.  Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick, speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff. And today our guest is Dr Paul Sundberg, Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center. And as we move into the early months of 2018, a new plan of action has been put together and Paul brings us up to speed.

Paul Sundberg:  00:33  One of the things that the Center has done, the Swine Health Information Center, is divided up the work into different categories. One thing that we’re interested in doing is monitoring and mitigating risk for swine health. So we’re looking around the world, around the country, monitoring for things that are changing, for things that are happening, and watching that for producers. So we have a heads up on things that might come our way. And then another category that we have then is to respond to emerging diseases. If we get something, we have to be ready to respond. And so we’ve got some, we’ve got some projects and some things were going on in 17 and continue on in 18 in responding.  We’re doing surveillance and discovery of emerging diseases and, and that’s a look at what we have to do internally here in the country to do a better job of finding emerging diseases and a better job to understand what happens when they come.

Paul Sundberg:  01:29  And finally, we’ve got the swine disease matrix, which is the list of viruses that are prioritized according to their affects either on markets, on the farm, or their likelihood to be introduced or emerge. And we’ve got research going on in those. So those are all four categories .  In 2017, some highlights from 2017 include,  we’ve finished the standardization of the veterinary diagnostic data project. All the veterinary diagnostic labs have, before this, recorded and messaged their swine test results independently. So for example, University of Minnesota diagnostic lab does it differently than South Dakota State, does it differently than Iowa State, does it differently than Kansas State. We’ve made all of them play together and work together and they’ve done a great job in doing that. So now that we’ve got that standardization done, in 2018 we’re going to take the next step and we’re going to use that information where we can look at the veterinary diagnostic lab submissions and results in a way that protects producer identity in producer information and use it to help producers look at regional differences in swine health, to maybe support our ability to be able to predict outbreaks and predict the disease might be coming to the farm. A really important and great next step to that project in 2018.

Paul Sundberg:  03:04  In 2017, one of the things we put together was the rapid response corps. And that’s part of our projects with responding to diseases. One of the things we learned from PED outbreak was that we weren’t prepared to rapidly respond in a uniform and coordinated manner,  and investigate outbreaks as they happen so we could learn from lessons.  We’ve put together around the country are rapid response corps that is divided up in the country, is divided up into six different regions. And within those regions we have experts that are willing and able to go onto the farms when they’re invited by producers to do investigations of outbreaks of diseases.  And in 2018, now we’re going to exercise that whole system to make sure that it is operational, to make sure that it’s up to date, and make sure that we uncover any weaknesses and make it really ready to go the next time we get a real emerging disease in the country.  On  another project. Yeah. Go ahead. Don!

Don Wick:  04:05  You mentioned, you mentioned these emerging diseases. Can you kind of give us an idea of some of the areas that you’re looking at that are possible threats?

Paul Sundberg:  04:17  Sure.  There are a number of syndromes that are going on around the country that we’ve got viruses and other pathogens that are being associated with outbreaks. For example, on some finishing floors, we see some central nervous system signs, the pigs are dizzy,  they can’t stand up, they go down on their side and can’t get back up again. They are bright and alert, but they just can’t, they can’t function, they can’t ambulate, they can’t move.  And a virus, it’s called sapelovirus, has been associated with that kind of syndrome. We’re going to look at the association of sapelovirus with that kind of syndrome to see what’s going on around the country and see the effects that sapelovirus could have on some pigs, so maybe we can do a better job of identifying that virus or others that might be causing these problems.

Paul Sundberg:  05:06  Those are the kinds of things we’re doing. There’s a new virus, it’s called bastrovirus that has been associated with diarrhea in little pigs. We’re going to be looking at that and seeing if we can uncover how that association works and if it really is an issue. So there are a number of things that are going on around the country that we’re getting reports of different syndromes.  Veterinary diagnostic labs and their diagnosticians are very helpful in this and letting us know what’s happening around the country so we can investigate these further. So we know if we’re really getting an emerging disease or not.

Don Wick:  05:41  Do you kind of rank them or prioritize what the areas that you’ are looking at Paul?

Paul Sundberg:  05:49  Well, the swine disease matrix is a list of viruses that have been prioritized and so when we get a report of a syndrome, of a virus associated with some disease or some outbreak, we look on that list,  and use that list kind of as a gauge of how urgent, how important this could be along with the other veterinary diagnostic lab information, practitioner and producer information that we’re getting. And so that gives us a gauge of how quickly we need to respond, what we need to do and how fast we have to look. A good example of that was in 2015 and the outbreak of the Seneca Valley A virus or Seneca Valley virus.  That was the process we used in 2015 when we first heard about that virus starting to infect pigs all across the country. We use all of that information, plus the matrix prioritization, and quickly put research toward that virus so we can help with mitigating that outbreak.

Don Wick:  06:55  Certainly, continuity of business is a big part of this.  You talk about the rapid response program. Do you feel that the industry is better prepared today than we were just a few years ago?

Paul Sundberg:  07:01  Yeah. You know, that’s, it is relative and it’s a good thing that you said just a few years ago because it’s all relative. I don’t think we’re prepared enough. I don’t know that we’ll ever be prepared enough, but I have no doubt that we are better prepared than we were just a few years ago. I’ve been in the industry for a long time and through my 25 plus year career, we’re better prepared now for foreign animal disease and emerging diseases than we’ve ever been. That doesn’t mean that we are absolutely prepared though. We will be better prepared next year then we are now, and hopefully the year after that, better prepared then then we will be in 2019.

Don Wick: 07:44  That really speaks to that collaborative effort for the Swine Health Information Center itself. I mean you’ve got a lot of entities that are all working together on this effort.

Paul Sundberg:  07:51  We sure have and it’s been a very cooperative effort.  Anytime that I’ve asked for some help from any diagnosticians, veterinarians, producers, anyplace looking for helping any of these issues, I’ve never been turned down.  And it really coalesced around the recognition that emerging diseases affect our industry, affect our producers, affect their ability to make a living, and we need to figure out an industry wide way to address those, to answer those challenges when they come, be better prepared, be better able to respond, and be better able to recover should we get one.  One of the things that the Center is offering to producers, and their veterinarians is support for diagnostic fees. After that first wave of diagnosis, after those first,  that first wave  diagnostic tests are done, and if the producer and veterinarian say we didn’t get a satisfactory answer.  We don’t know what it is, but we didn’t get a satisfactory answer, then the Swine Health Information Center is going to step up and help to fill that gap. Help to support further diagnostic fees. The issue here is to ensure that we don’t miss something that could be emerging simply because we’ve given up, don’t have enough money, don’t have enough resources to be handled to further test and further try to uncover things. That’s a really important resource. It’s available. I want to make sure that everybody’s aware of that because I think that’s one of the things that’s going to help underscore our ability to detect and respond quickly to emerging diseases.

Don Wick:  09:35  Dr Paul Sundberg from the Swine Health Information Center. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.