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Prevent Iowa swine diseases

By Staff | Feb 6, 2016

DR. DAVE SCHMITT, center, state veterinarian, answers a question about emerging swine health challenges during a presentation Jan. 27 at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines. At left is Chris Rademacher, an Iowa State University evidence-based swine disease specialist; and Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health information Center.

DES MOINES – Every day during 2015, an average of 80,500 head of livestock moved into Iowa including swine, feeders and breeders; cattle, feeders and breeders; sheep; horses; goats and cervids – deer and elk.

That number did not include dogs, chickens, turkeys, cats or semen.

With that many animals flowing into Iowa on a daily basis, watchfulness for livestock diseases are paramount, said Dr. Dave Schmitt, state veterinarian, during a Jan. 27 presentation at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

He said a total of 51 foreign animal disease investigations were held in the state on hog farms and that the relatively new Seneca Valley Virus was found on one farm in July, three in August, nine in September, four in October, two in November and one in December.

There have been none found as of Jan. 27 during the month.

He said SVV appears to be a short-duration disease, with a relatively low mortality rate, except for neonatal pigs with a mortality rate of 2 to 5 percent within seven days of birth, because the sow is ill, feverish and off her feed.

But the problem, he said, is that the symptoms look like foot and mouth disease, a disease that has devastated livestock wherever it has broken out.

“You can’t tell the difference,” he said.

Schmitt’s report said Iowa received 2.5 million feeders and 262,000 breeding swine during 2015.

With swine flowing in from 10 states and Canada, Schmitt said, a disease can slip into Iowa undetected.

That’s why it’s imperative, he said, that producers who suspect a problem contact a veterinarian or his office immediately to determine if a contagious swine disease is on the loose so a rapid response can limit its spread.

Symptoms of SVV are vascular blisters on the snouts, and blister erosions on hooves.

The first Iowa case, in July 2015, infected pigs had been at a county fair.

Of the 33 confirmed 2015 cases, in 21 counties, infected pigs were found at exhibitions, in farrow-to-finish operations, in sow barns, gilt developer units, finishing barns and at processing plants.

Schmitt outlined for producers what they can expect from the state’s response if a contagious disease is found including quarantine, possibly euthanasia, and then disinfecting facilities and inspections before allowing to repopulate facilities.

Disease watch

Dr. Paul Sundberg, executive director of the newly formed Swine Health Information Center, said his organization is watching a number of potential swine diseases in other countries and working to keep them out of the U.S., and learning how to respond rapidly and accurately.

“We might not be able to stop (diseases) coming in,” Sundberg said, ‘but we’re learning how to respond to them.”

One pathogen is a Chinese strain of pseudorabies.

“This is worst than the pseudorabies we eradicated in Iowa in the 1980s,” Sundberg said. “There’s some gray hairs out there who remember that, and no one wants to go through that again.”

The Chinese pseudorabies virus is a big problem in that country, he said.

So too, is a Chinese strain of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. “It’s highly pathogenic,” Sundberg said.

“These are harbingers to come and what we need to prepare for.”

He said SHIC is preparing a data base for diseases they are watching for and already preparing response teams in event these diseases make it to the U.S.

He said the 2014 outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus alerted the animal health industry that it must have a faster response to new disease outbreaks.

As for SVV, Sundberg said it’s been in the U.S. 1988, but there are typically a few cases annually in Iowa.

“But something has changed,” he said, with 33 2015 cases confirmed in Iowa.

He said SVV does not appear to impact sow fertility, reproduction or litter size.

“Give them enough time to heal,” said Chris Rademacher, an Iowa State University evidence-based swine disease specialist. After 30 days the pigs can be marketed.

“But don’t let the lesions get to the pig processors,” he said. “The numbers are low now. Will it be back next summer? Don’t know.”

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