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‘Secure Pork’ plan aims to ensure pig flow from uninfected farms during FAD outbreak

If a foreign animal disease (FAD) were to hit the US pork industry, the impact could be dramatic and widespread — most likely resulting in government-mandated quarantines around the affected areas to stop the disease from spreading.

“The quarantine would affect both infected and non-infected animal premises,” said Pam Zaabel, DVM, with the Center for Food Health and Security, Iowa State University. “The goal of the Secure Pork plan is to ensure that uninfected pork premises caught in the quarantine can continue on with business.”

Officially known as the Secure Pork Supply Plan, the initiative has received funding from USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, as well as the National Pork Board. Other industries, such as poultry, beef and dairy have similar plans in the works. In fact, many of those plans work together so that producers and animal-health officials who have to address multiple species will have plans that work in tandem.

Past animal-health challenges in the US — poultry’s highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2015 and pork’s bout with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) beginning in 2013, for instance — provided lessons that plan developers have used to revise and update quarantine protocols.

“The pork industry has a lot of good biosecurity measures in place, but from the HPAI break [in poultry] we learned there’s a big difference between biosecurity for the endemic diseases that we have and biosecurity for the diseases that we don’t have,” Zaabel told Pig Health Today.

For example, she added, “PEDV helped us realize that there aren’t enough truck washes in the US to handle an FAD outbreak.”

Biosecurity is at the heart of Secure Pork. The program outlines steps pork producers must address — some now and some later.

The first step is to be prepared with a written biosecurity and implementation plan for each production site. “One thing we added after HPAI was a biosecurity manager for the production site — someone to ensure that employees are trained on biosecurity measures and that anyone coming onto the site knows the biosecurity steps that they need to follow,” Zaabel noted.

Disease surveillance is another measure that on-farm personnel can help advance. Because veterinarians and animal-health officials would be pushed to the max in an FAD outbreak, having farm employees who are trained in proper sample collection is vital.

“People are already collecting oral fluids for PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome), so understanding how to collect and send those samples in for FADs is important,” Zaabel said.

It’s also important for each production site to have a premises identification number. “This needs to reflect the actual location of the animals,” she added, “not a house or an office in town, so that the animals can be quickly identified during an outbreak.”

Producers will be the ones to enroll in the Secure Pork Supply Plan, but swine veterinarians will play a significant role. “Veterinarians can start by making sure there are biosecurity measures in place now and identify additional measures for when an outbreak occurs,” Zaabel concluded.

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