Swine health is a valuable area of Pork Checkoff research, as its discoveries and insights can have major impacts on herd health and productivity.
Foreign animal disease
An occurrence of a foreign animal disease in U.S. swine herds would devastate the pork industry; left undetected and unaddressed, all exports would be halted, driving prices down by 40-50 percent. Good security and biosecurity practices are critical for protecting farms from foreign animal disease.
Classical Swine Fever
Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. The disease has been eradicated from the U.S. since 1978, although outbreaks have occurred in some foreign countries. Pigs can become infected after eating food contaminated with the virus. It’s then spread by contact with any bodily discharge from the infected pig and can be carried by other pigs or objects, like equipment or clothing. Veterinarians should be called immediately if there is any suspicion of disease. CSF does not affect humans.
African Swine Fever
African swine fever (ASFV) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. It can spread very quickly in pig populations through direct or indirect contact. After direct, or non-tickborne, contact with the virus, ASFV is mainly thought to enter the body through the upper respiratory tract. There is no vaccine or treatment available and there is no evidence that ASFV can infect humans. The U.S. is a ASFV-free region, but if an outbreak is suspected then a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral disease that can cause illness in animals with divided hooves. FMD is not a public health or food safety concern and also is not related to the common childhood illness hand, foot and mouth disease. Most affected animals will not die from FMD, but the disease leaves them weakened and unable to produce meat the way they did before. FMD has been eradicated from the U.S., but it remains a worldwide concern that animal health agencies and checkoff programs invest many resources in preventing the disease from reentering the country.
Domestic animal disease
PRRS is the industry’s greatest challenge, but other bacterial and viral diseases continue to be of concern in pork producers’ daily lives. The National Pork Board provides research support to help understand these pathogens, as well as support for information and education for both researchers and pork producers.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a disease characterized by two overlapping clinical presentations: reproductive impairment or failure and respiratory disease in pigs of any age. PRRS is a worldwide concern, including the U.S. The virus is spread by nasal secretions, saliva, feces and urine and can be airborne for up to two miles. Control strategy for PRRS varies, and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately if an infection is suspected. The National Pork Board produced the PRRS book, a comprehensive resource of Checkoff-funded research for producers, veterinarians and researchers.
Pseudorabies primarily affects swine and does not infect humans or meat from pigs that passes inspection. Pigs are the only naturally known reservoirs of the virus. It is usually passed by nose-to-nose contact because of its presence in nasal and oral discharges of infected pigs. Signs may be similar to rabies: abnormal gait, intense scratching, self-mutilation and convulsions. Any animals displaying clinical signs should be examined by a veterinarian.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is caused by a virus that is related to transmissable gastrointestinal virus. It is a new virus to the U.S., first confirmed in the country in 2013. PEDV does not infect humans or livestock other than pigs. Clinical signs include severe diarrhea in pigs of all ages and vomiting and has a high mortality rate. The disease is contracted by oral contact with contaminated feces and the incubation period lasts 12-24 hours. Infected pigs should be provided a clean, dry, draft-free environment with plenty of clean drinking water. Veterinarians should be contacted immediately.
Related information regarding foreign animal disease
APHIS provides vast information on African Swine Fever and FMD, including educational videos on the diseases for producers to view.
The Center for Food Security and Public Health focuses on veterinary medicine and zoonotic diseases, including Classical Swine Fever and FMD. This site also deals with preparedness for bioterrorism, disease outbreak investigation, and other public health emergencies.
Learn how you can protect your livestock from an FMD outbreak by planning ahead. Also, learn how FMD is not a public health concern but could threaten the U.S. economy.
USAHA shares meeting minutes, members, committee information and news on Foreign and Emerging Disease issues in the U.S.
Related information regarding domestic animal disease
The College of Veterinary Medicine shares information on swine diseases, behavior, management, production and many other topics that are helpful in swine operations.