Emerging Swine Diseases - Call When Things Just Don't Add Up

What to do when there's something new
calendar icon 19 November 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

Dustin Oedekoven, state veterinarian for South Dakota, spoke at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) conference about emerging swine diseases in his presentation "What to Do When There's Something New."

Dr. Oedekoven's topic is the result of discussions regarding emerging and reemerging pathogens seen recently in the swine industry but also in other livestock species as well.

"In the last several years, we've had for example porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) that started in 2013," said Dr. Oedekoven. "We've been working a lot with swine practitioners, producers and slaughter plants on Senecavirus A and trying to figure out how we can improve that process, and yet not miss the opportunity to investigate foreign animal diseases."

Dr. Oedekoven noted that different groups can interact efficiently - state animal health officials, veterinarians, producers and diagnostic labs.

"Depending on where you're at and your perspective of whatever the new problem is, that starts your path of communication with whomever you choose. We want to make sure that we complete the communication because it's important that everybody has a piece of that," he said. "In my state of South Dakota, I'm very fortunate to have a good working relationship with our diagnostic lab. I get good continual updates from the laboratory about the sample submissions that are coming in from practitioners, which certainly helps to aid my connections with other state and federal animal health officials and helps to identify newly emerging syndromes or pathogens."

Swine veterinarians and producers often times communicate within their own networks, for example, within PRRS control regions.

"There are a lot of different groups out there communicating on disease control and disease diagnostics and part of what I hope to cover is the need to link all of those different communication networks together for the benefit of our swine industry," he explained.

When Do I Call the State Veterinarian?

It starts with a good veterinarian-client patient relationship. Many clients served by veterinarians at AASV depend on their veterinarians and are very tied into their surveillance systems and use diagnostic lab services.

"For that group, I think they're mostly aware of some of the clinical signs, where we see an increase in mortality or morbidity. A change in what we would usually think of for a respiratory or GI disease - something that just doesn't add up," he said "That's kind of what the diagnosticians are looking at too as they run through a list of differentials based on the clinical presentation. But if they're not able to identify a certain pathogen, that's when we start looking for other things - foreign animal diseases, newly emerging diseases, that sort of thing."

Anytime is a good time to call your state animal health officials because they are part of the investigation to help producers and veterinarians find answers, he said. State animal health officials can offer veterinarian staff and diagnostic support to assist in the process.

"There are hundreds of foreign animal disease investigations each year, and the majority of them turn out to be negative," said Dr. Oedekoven. "It's good to exercise the system, so we always encourage people. If you're not sure, just call us anyway. We want to help in the process, and certainly no one wants to ignore the potential index case of a major foreign animal disease outbreak."

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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