North American swine sector to focus on strategic disease prevention in 2020

A Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says the swine sector is placing a greater emphasis on the strategies that will prevent the introduction of diseases onto farms.
calendar icon 24 February 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

In light of evolving disease pressures, prevention has become a top priority. Speaking to Farmscape, Dr John Harding, a Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, notes we have a very complex livestock sector involving multiple sites with large airspaces, transportation of pigs great distances and the emergence of new pathogens, antimicrobial resistance and potential zoonotic diseases.

Biosecurity is number one and, whether that's at the herd level or the regional level or at the international level, we certainly need to always keep biosecurity in mind.
For instance, keeping African Swine Fever out of the country is clearly a priority of the industry.

"At the international or the regional level it could be keeping PED out of certain areas of the country or at the farm level it could be keeping PRRS out of an individual herd," says Dr Harding.

"But there are other factors as well. Closely related to that is location of the farm.

"If you want a farm that PRRS or mycoplasma, those diseases that may transmit by aerosol, then locating in an area that there's not a lot of neighbouring pig farms will be very important.

"Other ways to reduce the risk would be certainly source of animals.

"It traditionally has been one of the main reasons why herds have broken, so whether those are gilts or boars or semen coming in, you always need to evaluate the health status of those animals and put in appropriate measures such as quarantine prior to bringing those animals in.

"Once farms are infected, there's management tools such as vaccination and medications that can be used to either prevent infection, but likely not. More along the lines of reducing challenge or infection pressure in the individual groups of animals."

Dr Harding says from the international scale right down to the farm scale, there's a lot of things that can be done to reduce the risk of infection.

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