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“At The Meeting“ highlights potential impacts of African swine fever

17 September 2018, at 12:00am

In a special edition of "At the Meeting", experts are consulted about the spread of African swine fever, what makes it such a challenging virus to control and how countries are successfully reducing its impact

Recent outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in China have prompted many questions about this serious disease, and what’s being done to prevent its spread. In two new episodes of the “At The Meeting… Honoring Dr Bob Morrison” podcast, cohosts Dr Tom Wetzell, Dr Gordon Spronk and Dr Montserrat Torremorell visit with experts about how the disease has spread in other parts of the world, what makes it such a challenging virus to control, and how countries, including Russia, are having success in reducing its impact.

In the first segment, Dr Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian with the National Pork Producers Council, talks with the hosts about the history of the disease and how it spread from Africa to parts of Asia and eastern Europe. “What makes it one of the most feared swine diseases in the world is that it is very transmissible, has a very high mortality rate, and currently has no vaccine,” she explains.

Dr Wagstrom reviews clinical signs of the disease and its rapid progression, and explains what the US swine industry is doing to prevent the introduction of African swine fever into US swine herds. She also reviews steps US producers can take to safeguard their herds.

The second episode features Brad Heron, director of operations for the Cherkizovo Group, one of Russia’s largest fully integrated swine production companies. With 20 years of experience working in large Midwestern swine operations, Heron began his work in Russia in 2014, and since then has dealt with two major outbreaks of African swine fever, the first one leading to the loss of 85,000 head. He shares first-hand observations of how the virus presents in infected pigs, how quickly it progresses, and how they traced its source.

Heron also discusses the strict biosecurity protocols that were already in place prior to the outbreaks, and how the Cherkizovo Group improved isolation and monitoring procedures afterward. He says regular and rigorous testing is essential to keeping the disease out of an operation and to containing it when it is discovered.

Click here to listen to these episodes and more

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