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New project hopes to ID gaps in swine disease spread

The goal is to help prevent entry of foreign animal disease into the U.S.

With the goal of preventing entry of foreign animal disease into the U.S., a year-long project has been launched to identify gaps in pork industry national biosecurity. 

The swine industry has witnessed the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in Russia, Europe, and Asia as well as the distraction of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The economic repercussions of the introduction of foreign animal diseases into the U.S. are enormous, making it imperative to protect the industry, explains Dave Pyburn, chief veterinarian with the Pork Checkoff.

The project will be conducted by EpiX Analytics of Fort Collins, Colorado, and funded by the National Pork Board (NPB) and Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), with the collaboration of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, The National Swine Disease Council (NSDC) represents all of these organizations collectively and provides oversight.

The project will create a rigorous, science- and risk-based foundation for looking at the domestic pork industry, says Paul Sundberg, SHIC executive director. “The information developed from this study will help producers to protect their industry and continue their worldwide competitiveness. We believe identification and prioritization of biosecurity gaps will not only protect the industry from ASF and other FADs, it may also improve efficiency of production by reducing the impact of endemic swine diseases.”

The project will not only identify and prioritize biosecurity gaps within the U.S. pork industry, it will provide direction for corrective or additional measures of value. In the process, EpiX Analytics will point out potential mechanisms through which FADs can be introduced, spread, and affect the domestic pork industry, employing a unique approach including:

  • A risk-based analysis considering both probability and impact
  • Building on established, peer-reviewed, and validated framework
  • Being grounded in science and evidence
  • Incorporating expertise and data from the U.S. industry

ASF will be used as a model for other FADs due to the virus’s resiliency as well as the great concern surrounding it in the industry. Among the many areas being considered for study are foreign imports, entry of foreign travelers, domestic transportation of animals, common inputs to U.S. production, domestic market channels, and others. The outcomes will include details if biosecurity gaps are identified, including data sources and uncertainty in risk estimates.

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