Standardizing Diagnostics to Battle Emerging Swine Diseases

ANALYSIS - A lesson learned from the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) outbreak in 2013 was that the US swine industry must do a better job at communicating across the industry, and the first step is for everyone to speak the same language, writes Sarah Mikesell for ThePigSite.
calendar icon 18 October 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), said standardizing information and communicating within the industry are keys to identifying and monitoring for emerging diseases.

"An outcome or lesson learned from the PED outbreak in 2013 was we have to do better at communicating - all the way from producers, to veterinarians, to diagnostic labs," Sundberg said. "That communication then will give us the opportunity to be able to better respond to diseases."

The SHIC is working with veterinary diagnostic labs at University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, Iowa State University and Kansas State University to standardize the format used to send out diagnostic results.

"Each of those laboratories developed their own system, what's called messaging, or communicating test results," he said. "Through cooperation, they are standardizing the way they report. When that happens, then everybody is talking the same language."

This process helps correlate and collate information from different diagnostic labs so rather than having individual university laboratory information, national information is available. There was already some cooperation occurring among the industry, ahead of the PED outbreak, to manage PRRS outbreaks.

"The lesson learned from PED was that we couldn't manage that outbreak without knowing what everybody else was doing because a neighboring farm being infected is going to affect me," Sundberg said. "That lead producers to say, 'You know, show me yours and I'll show you mine. And let's work together to try to manage this.'"

Now's the time to take advantage of this open attitude in the industry to do a better job of managing the health of swine herds.

Canada is also interested in US activities because Sundberg says it's really a North American pig industry.

"It's not just the USA, and then there's Canada. We get pigs down; we send pigs up. Things are moving all the time, so we really have a North American industry," he concluded. "This standardization and communication are big efforts for the SHIC, and it's something we're trying to get ingrained into the minds of that North American industry."

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

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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