With African swine fever, even hours to days of earlier detection can make a significant difference to protect the U.S. swine industry, maintain pork trade.
Though it isn't present yet in the United States, African swine fever's global spread since 2007 poses a serious threat to the U.S. swine industry. This deadly swine virus can cause extremely high mortality, and no treatment or widely approved vaccine are available to protect pigs from it. Because of its severity, ASF-infected herds are depopulated to prevent the disease from spreading.
Previous reports have estimated that due to control measures and lost markets, an ASF epidemic could cost the United States about $50 billion across 10 years. It is vital that the U.S. swine industry be prepared against this massive threat.
Surveillance, the activity of looking for diseases in populations, is a powerful tool in the fight against ASF. Passive surveillance refers to disease monitoring by farmers and their veterinarians, such as reporting suspicious clinical signs to a veterinary official. Consistent and comprehensive passive surveillance is vitally important to detect an outbreak as quickly as possible, which could make the difference between swiftly stamping out ASF or a prolonged, costly struggle.
However, early detection of ASF is difficult. ASF-infected pigs can look like many other diseases, such as porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. High herd mortalities may eventually raise suspicion of ASF, but because the virus spreads slowly, this may occur too late to prevent wide-scale outbreaks and losses. Additionally, labor and economic constraints can make consistent on-farm surveillance difficult to implement.
To address these concerns, researchers at the University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety are exploring novel ways to help swine producers identify a potential ASF-infected pig on their farms as early as possible.Click here to see more...