African Swine Fever concerns outlined by US veterinarian

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Us, Pork, African swine fever, Livestock

The top five areas of concern for African Swine Fever contamination amongst producers and veterinarians were outlined at a recent industry event.

Collated by Pork Checkoff from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting, veterinarian Clayton Johnson, a partner with Carthage Veterinary Services in Illinois, offered five areas that producers and veterinarians should keep in mind to prevent ASF from entering the United States or at least stop it from spreading once it arrives.

Speaking on a GlobalMeatNews webinar in October 2019, Dr Scott Dee of Pipestone Veterinary Services warned that ASF may already be in North America​​ and, if it reaches the commercial herd, could cost the country’s agricultural industry $16bn in the first year alone.

The Five Areas:

Contaminated Pork: “The carcass is the biggest risk of transmission, whether a mortality or processed meat,”​ he said. “For example, transmission could happen at one of our national parks if a foreign visitor brought in illegal meat products.”

He warned that it’s a good idea to follow a no-pork-allowed policy on pig farms when it comes to food items eaten on the premises. Johnson also recommends eliminating feeding kitchen waste and garbage.

Contaminated Visitors:​ “Exclusion is always a principle to apply in biosecurity,”​ Johnson said. “Complete exclusion of visitors from infected countries should be enforced.”

He advises a five-day downtime for foreign visitors is recommended when exclusion isn’t possible or practical and suggests providing visitors with US-sourced clothing and footwear for farm visits.

Contaminated Transport Vehicles:“Remember, there are about 1 million pigs on the road in the US every day,” ​Johnson said. "That creates a major vulnerability if ASF enters our country."

He warns that because transportation biosecurity is key to any biosecurity program, it’s vital to have a stringent cleaning and disinfection protocol in place. Disinfection processes can be effective, including chemical, thermal and pH manipulation.

Contaminated Mortality Equipment:“I don’t feel confident that we will find ASF quickly once it enters the country,”​ Johnson warned. “That’s why the first mortalities will spread the disease as normal disposal methods are used.”

He said that shared rendering vehicles pose a big risk, so rethink that disposal method, especially if a clear/dirty line isn’t followed. Also, be sure that pick-up locations are free of rodents, predators and birds.

Contaminated Feed Ingredients:“We have good data to guide us with the recent research that’s been done,”​ Johnson said. “That’s why we want a minimum of four weeks of holding time so we don’t bring in virus from ASF-positive countries.”

He said imported feed ingredients pose a significant risk for ASF and other foreign animal diseases, so avoid using imported feed ingredients from ASF-positive countries when possible. Also, consider using chemical disinfectants with residual activity and always observe recommended holding times/temperatures for imported ingredients.

Johnson warned that even though the US has avoided being added to the list of countries with confirmed cases of the disease, ongoing vigilance and action is required.

 “Half of the world is in some stage of the battle against ASF on their soil,” ​Johnson said. “However, the United States holds the greatest arsenal of weapons to fight ASF with our good biosecurity strategies, diagnostic expertise, vaccines in development and good cleaning and sanitation capabilities.”

He added that it was important to share resources and expertise as much as possible in the fight against ASF. That includes veterinarians, researchers, diagnosticians, pharmaceutical companies and others coming together.

“When a country becomes positive for ASF, we don’t see it going back to normal,”​ Johnson said. “We should be very disturbed by this reality and do whatever is necessary to prevent from becoming the next ASF casualty.”

Related topics: Meat

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