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Avian influenza - a notifiable pig disease for the future?

by 5m Editor
6 December 2004, at 12:00am

UK - Recent discussions with Defra's exotic disease division indicate a need to formulate a control policy in the event of avian influenza entering the country.

National
Pig
Association

National Pig Association
THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

No case has so far been reported of a transmission into pigs that has resulted in the pig becoming infectious, although reports speak of virus being isolated in pigs on the same holdings as infected birds. It is far more difficult for a virus to replicate itself and cause infection in another species.

History, however, contains plenty of evidence of viral mutation taking place in the Far East enabling influenza to start in poultry and migrate through pigs into a form which can seriously affect humans. It is not a likely scenario to take place within our shores since we don't have the same close intermingling of species, but global traffic can radically alter the capacity of such a virus to leap continents.

We are supportive of Defra getting legislation in place to act swiftly although we would caution that any resulting movement restrictions should be proportionate to the risk. Once in the country, the risk of spread clearly grows with our high proportion of extensive pig and poultry units and the movement of wild birds.

This is yet another reason why producers need to be proactive in developing demonstrable, self-assessed, bio-security protocols; evidence of these may prove invaluable in determining the risk status of a unit and subsequent action in the event of an outbreak of disease within a 3km protection zone. No need for alarm but plenty of need to be aware.

Farm waste controls

On Thursday next week, Defra will unveil its proposed controls on farm waste. The new measures, if adopted, will bring controls for agricultural waste in line with those for other business sectors and will require a significant shift in the way farmers manage their wastes. Farm waste rules will apply controls to storage, transport, recovery and final disposal. The aim will be to strengthen environmental protection, while encouraging waste minimisation and recovery.

Source: Ian Campbell - National Pig Association - 5th December 2004

5m Editor