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New council to direct swine-disease response

The first warning came from an emerging disease, porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), in 2013. The second alarm sounded in 2018 when China reported African swine fever (ASF) within the country’s swine population.

For years, the US pork industry has had plans in place to address a foreign animal disease, but the PED and ASF developments raised the priority status to a new level.

There are many pieces that must come together for an effective disease response, involving industry groups, state and federal government officials, producers and veterinarians, just to name a few. Each have specific responsibilities, some of which overlap. Although industry and governmental groups have long worked together, further coordination to elicit a quick and effective response to an emerging disease was the impetus behind creating the National Swine Disease Council (NSDC).

NSDC is comprised of pork producers and state animal-health officials, as well as the National Pork Board (NPB), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), North American Meat Institute, Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. The entities represent distinct areas of swine expertise vital to ensure a rapid response to diseases that threaten the US pork industry. USDA participates ad hoc in meetings to provide input and gather information to communicate back to leadership.

Developed to harmonize response

The official mission of the NSDC is to provide collaboration with animal-health officials and recommendations to industry stakeholders to mitigate threats and negative impacts on the US pork industry from diseases of concern.

An example could include an emerging production disease such as PED, when it first entered the country, and where producers’ and veterinarians’ efforts might benefit from state or federal assistance, noted Paul Sundberg, SHIC executive director.

Sundberg agreed, “Having a system like that in place to quickly and cooperatively respond to the next emerging disease — foreign or domestic — will help mitigate the risk of it spreading and may contain it altogether.”

Two outbreak scenarios

Webb provided two scenarios to illustrate how the roles would break out to facilitate a rapid response to a swine-disease threat.

  1. Outbreaks of FAD and regulatory diseases: In the event of an outbreak of a World Organization for Animal Health or OIE-listed FAD or a current (PRV, swine brucellosis) or future regulatory disease, state and federal animal-health officials will have regulatory authority to lead the response. The NSDC will play a supportive role by developing producer recommendations before or during an outbreak to help regulators achieve their response goals.
  2. Outbreaks of non-regulatory emerging diseases: In this case, the NSDC will use a standardized process to coordinate state-federal-industry cooperative efforts to identify, characterize, prioritize and respond to the outbreak. The council will coordinate the development of response actions and identify the responsible parties. NSDC also will facilitate the funding mechanisms necessary to implement the recommended actions to better protect the US swine herd.

The council will rely on subject matter experts to advise and inform on every aspect of disease management. That may include forming short- and long-term project teams to identify, review and implement appropriate recommendations.

As for oversight, a chairperson and vice-chairperson will be selected, as well as a staff member from a member organization assigned to provide administrative support to the NSDC.

“Each of the organizations has deep experience working together,” said Liz Wagstrom, DVM, NPPC. “The end game for each of us is to improve disease detection, assessment, containment and eradication. Only then can we rest knowing that the nation’s pork supply is secure, the animal agriculture and food production industry is stable, and public health is protected.”


Posted on February 21, 2019

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