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Swift identification key to keeping emerging diseases at bay

Encouraging farm staff to identify changes in pig behavior and health is key to spotting signs of disease before it takes hold in a herd, according one of Canada’s top pig veterinarians.

Dr. George Charbonneau, of Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services, told the Pig Site that identifying signs of new or emerging diseases can be a challenge for producers.

But by having a clear idea what is “normal” within a herd in terms of mortality and treatments, staff can recognize changes and take action much faster, he said.

“When you get a change from those normal baselines, then that triggers you to say something unusual is going on here,” he said.

“At that point, it’s important to get a veterinarian involved to either confirm it’s a disease you already had… or maybe it’s something absolutely new. You just don’t want to make that assumption.”

Charbonneau said it is important producers keep an open mind to what disease could appear on their farms, as viruses can shift and mutate easily.

An example is Brachyspira hampsonii — a virus that causes dysentery — which first appeared up in the US and was then identified in western Canada.

“The quicker you can detect if it does show up, you have a greater opportunity to contain it and maybe just walk it right back out,” Charbonneau added. “That’s the low-cost solution to a new problem. Speed is of the essence.”

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Posted on March 16, 2018

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