SHIC PCR catalog boosts US pork industry’s disease preparedness
Pork producers and swine veterinarians spend a lot of time and energy monitoring the health status of pigs in their care. But it’s the unknown or emerging diseases that could pose an even larger risk. Case in point: the 2013 emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). The memories of vast piglet losses and the challenge of identifying the culprit are not easily forgotten.
“We could not effectively test for PEDV at the time,” said Paul Sundberg, DVM, Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) director.
SHIC is charged with enhancing the pork industry’s diagnostic preparedness for new and emerging production diseases. Embracing the mantra “early detection is critical to early response,” SHIC sponsored polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test development in 2016 through 2017 for diseases identified in its Swine Disease Matrix.
Now SHIC has released the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Assay Catalog, outlining 17 newly developed PCR tests, along with a list of experts to contact for questions and guidance. The catalog also summarizes the research behind the development of each of the PCR tests and provides technical information regarding sample collection, as well as analytical and diagnostic sensitivity and specificity.
The PCR catalog is posted on the SHIC website and has been sent to veterinary diagnostic laboratories. Although the audience is primarily diagnosticians, the benefits have a broader reach. “The direct value to practicing veterinarians is in the knowledge that the veterinary diagnostic labs have the capability to use these tests,” Sundberg told Pig Health Today. “This will be most helpful if they hit a diagnostic dead end or they suspect something other than the usual etiology.”
Of course, all of this is most useful if veterinarians, diagnosticians and personnel on the farm are up-to-date on potential emerging swine diseases. After all, looking for and recognizing the unfamiliar is essential for a quick industry response.
“For producers, the take-home message is that diagnostic labs now have an increased ability to address their disease issues and provide answers to the hard herd-health problems,” Sundberg noted. Another message, he emphasized, is that these new tests still won’t provide 100% assurance.
“If the veterinary diagnostic lab is unable to find an etiology or if the herd veterinarian isn’t confident in the answer provided, SHIC offers assistance with further diagnostic investigations to make sure we’re not missing some new or emerging disease,” he added.
SHIC continues to monitor diagnostic needs, and future PCR tests will be added to the catalog as needed and developed. Work on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests began in 2017 and continues into this year. “I expect when those are done they will be added to the catalog also,” Sundberg said.
From funding research to diagnostic test development to monitoring domestic and global swine diseases, SHIC and its partners are moving the US pork industry toward a new level of preparedness before a foreign animal or emerging disease surfaces in the US swine herd.