How Do US Biosurveillance Efforts Impact the Swine Industry?

ANALYSIS - When you hear the word "biosurveillance", you may wonder who's watching who? In this case, the team at Iowa State University's Diagnostic Laboratory is playing the important role of surveilling or monitoring the overall health of the US swine industry.
calendar icon 6 April 2016
clock icon 3 minute read

Dr. Rodger Main, director of the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, speaks to 5m's Sarah Mikesell about his team's biosurveillance efforts.

"Anti-mortem swine diagnostics, meaning the use of anti-mortem diagnostic testing, has really evolved to play a significant role in swine practices," said Dr. Rodger Main, director for the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. "Producers and veterinarians are using real-time information to make decisions not only to diagnose disease but also to ensure and preserve the health of the animals that they're serving."

Biosurveillance requires connectivity of diagnostic information from the farm to the lab and then back to the end-users. An area of focus has been to enhance the traceability of the information that is shared by using web-based online tools both at the front-end and back-end of the process.

"It feels like we're kind of at the dawn of a new age in the world of not only food-animal diagnostics but just animal health information management in general," said Dr. Main.

Consumers would be surprised by the sophistication of real-time biosurveillance, which is essentially the detection presence, absence of alternative pathogens both antigens as well as their anti-bodies status in real-time to make preventative medicine type applications, he said.

"We live in an increasingly globalized world, globalized economy with movement of people and trade, and so for certain our team at the lab works closely with our clientele to say and do everything we can do to help preserve the health and well-being of the animals that they're raising because all those healthy animals mean safe food," he said. "That's what we're here to do."

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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