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Losing family swine herd to disease turned this farmhand into a veterinarian

As a child, when the swine disease pseudorabies (Aujeszky’s disease) forced his father to sell all the family’s pigs and start over, Andrew Bents got the calling to become a swine veterinarian.

Today, he understands that weather conditions including fog, high winds and even thawing roads help contribute to the spread of swine disease, as he explains in a  video produced as part of the Vets on Call series.

“It starts with biosecurity,” explains Bents, now a veterinarian with the Veterinary Medical Center in Worthington, Minn.

“Clean hands, clean hair and clean clothes help ensure that we’re not tracking disease from the outside into the barn,” he adds as he showers upon arrival at a nursery barn.

Checking the nursery pigs’ health status, Bents pauses to give a pig the “nose-to-tail assessment,” pointing out its nasal discharge, “hay fever”-looking eyes, drooping ears and rough hair coat. He recognizes an acute case of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDv) and administers the appropriate antibiotic treatment.

“In our quest to reduce antibiotics and take care of disease, we’re really being aggressive about diagnosing disease before it gets out of hand in the entire herd,” he explains.

After observing all the pigs in the barn, Bents stops to check the detailed treatment log kept on every animal receiving antibiotics. The log ensures that no animals are sold before the withdrawal time of the antibiotic is met.

“I know the care that producers take to make sure that if the animal is treated, it’s not going to market until we’re absolutely positive that the treatment has been metabolized and exhausted from the body,” he stressed.


Vets on Call is a video series presented by Zoetis to showcase the important roles veterinarians play in food-animal production.


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