Zoetis Study Tour Focuses on Tackling Emerging Infectious Diseases in Pigs

UK - The pig industry needs to be continually aware of the risk of emerging and re-emerging diseases, world-renowned expert Dr Joaquim Segalés told a Zoetis study tour in Spain recently. The study tour was organised for UK pig veterinarians and leading producers.
calendar icon 9 September 2014
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Dr Segalés, director of CReSA, the Research Centre for Animal Health in Barcelona, said that with the high risk of such diseases having the potential to cause significant economic losses, the pig industry should be fully prepared with proper research into this topic.

Emerging infectious diseases are characterized by sudden, unpredictable outbreaks which can be of epidemic proportions. Subclinical infectious agents of today might be the causes of severe disease tomorrow, he said, and efforts are underway to find a predictive framework to help elucidate mechanisms of disease emergence.

"The control of a given disease or infection might be very difficult," said Dr Segalés. "Sometimes to live with an endemic scenario could be worse than to eradicate it and be threatened by the risk of re-infection."

Dr Segalés spoke about the emergence of PCV2 infection and the close genetic links between emergent American porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) and Chinese G2a strains, although the exact source of the origin has not been identified to date.

The event included a visit to the Albesa Ramadera Farm, a progressive sow farm outside Lleida and part of the Spanish OPP Group, where an interactive camera tour allowed the group to experience close-up the animals and their environment, without any biosecurity risk.

"Welfare is a key differentiator in the UK pig industry and it was interesting to see that the OPP Group takes the issue seriously," said Ifor Phillips, Key Account Manager, Zoetis UK. "For example, the group introduced changes around sow housing well in advance of European legislation."

After a pork luncheon at the 12th century Monasteri de les Avellines (the Hazelnut Monastery), Ben Lacey, Business Unit Director, Zoetis UK, introduced the symposium, making comparisons between the UK and Spanish pig industries, including the much higher PCV vaccination rates in the UK.

Mark Mombarg, Associate Director, R&D, Zoetis, joined the group from Olot, Spain, where he works on pig vaccine research and development. He spoke about the journey from a vaccine idea to the protected pig, explaining some of the challenges in creating the ‘perfect vaccine’, even for an innovation-based company.

"Customer feedback from the visit has been very positive and we will be considering ways to carry the theme and meeting prototype forward into the future," added Mr Lacey.

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