- news, features, articles and disease information for the swine industry


How to catch a disease outbreak early

18 December 2018

What can you do to aid in early detection of disease on your farm? Daniel Linhares, assistant professor at Iowa State University, shares three steps pig producers can take to improve their odds of catching a disease outbreak early.

"It's a very important topic, and there are basically three components of the disease detection process," he said. "The earlier we can detect the better, because the earlier you detect, the more  rapidly you can apply interventions." 

  1. Diagnostic monitoring of the entire pig population. On a weekly or monthly basis, collect biological samples, submit to the laboratory and screen for specific pathogens of concern.
  2. Monitor production records every few days. More specifically, for example, number of abortions, number of dead pigs, number of mummies or stillbirth, number of sows off feed. Collect key production metrics and use it in a systematic way to monitor how the herd is progressing. Detect early spikes or signals of change and/or significant changes in the production records. Whenever the system detects a significant change in production records compared to the baseline, there is a need for the producer to send more biological samples for testing. It's also important at this stage to contact the veterinarian and discuss which samples are needed and what are the possible diseases to investigate.
  3. Evaluation of clinical signs. On-farm staff must be trained and aware of what to look for. Clinical signs should be monitored on an hourly basis by the staff who work with the herd every day. Ensure they understand what's normal behaviour and the need to call their supervisor or veterinarian whenever they see something that's not normal. For example, increased coughing, a change in cough pattern, the type of cough or diarrhoea. Behaviour changes might include if pigs are not up, active and eating or drinking regularly.

"Those three things combined are really powerful," he said. "Screening of clinical signs is critical and is usually the first sign of the onset of diseases.”

For more information about swine diagnostics, click here or connect to the Thermo Fisher Scientific Swine Resource Center.


Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

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