PED lessons useful for ASF threat

Porcine epidemic diarrhea was a disaster for thousands of producers but surviving it might have set up the industry to better handle the threat of African swine fever.

“We learned a lot the hard way with PED,” said Scott Dee, a leading swine veterinarian from Minnesota, during the Global Hog Industry Virtual Conference.

“When we went into PED there was a lot we didn’t know.”

PED swept through the North American hog industry this decade, spreading through many regions of the United States. It was first found in Canada in 2014 in Ontario and spread to several other provinces before being brought under control and minimized.

Transport protocols were established. Clean-out and sanitization procedures for barns were developed. State, provincial and national approaches and rules formed.

Now with ASF breaking out across the northern hemisphere, North American hog producers are anxiously hoping the disease doesn’t appear on this continent and that industry and government are ready to face any outbreaks.

Feed manufacturing and feed distribution has been identified as a possible channel of ASF spread, and there the PED experience has helped the feed industry think its way into better management.

Biosecurity standards were boosted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the direct impact of PED jumping from farm to farm and the role feed transport could play in that “has been the biggest learning for us,” said Leah Wilkinson of the American Feed Industry Association.

There are hundreds of little steps involved in keeping industry supply chains safe, from ingredient suppliers to the slaughter plant. PED caused all the elements of the pork industry to think critically about what they were doing. With ASF looming, more research is needed.

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