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SHIC evaluates risk of FAD-contaminated feed infecting pigs

Farmscape.Ca reports that scientists are evaluating the level of risk posed by feed of bringing a foreign animal disease into North America.

12 February 2019, at 12:01p.m.

Speaking to Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Dr Paul Sundberg, Farmscape reports that SHIC researchers are working hard to determine the possibility of disease transmission through feed products and the exact route this might take.

The pathogens that pose the greatest risk to the North American pork sector are any of the foreign animal diseases, the big three being African swine fever, foot and mouth disease and classical swine fever.

Dr Sundberg says the research has shown there is potential for those viruses to survive in feed and feed components during transport across the ocean but we don't yet know what is the actual risk is of that happening.

Dr Sundberg explains:

"Not only do the diseases have to survive the duration of being imported, but they also have to be introduced to pigs and subsequently infect those pigs, and the likelihood of this happening is unknown.

"We're doing some research with Kansas State University looking at the ability of that African swine fever to infect pigs orally.

"We're doing the same thing on Plumb Island with USDA ARS with foot and mouth disease (FMD) to determine the oral dose of FMD that would initiate infection.

"This year, 2019, we're also going to look at ways to source data about the other links in that custody chain.

"If these viruses could be infecting pigs through feed, the feed must be getting into the pens. We’re going to be looking at ways to demonstrate the transmission of viruses from feed to pigs through that supply chain – not ASF, FMD and CSF – but we're looking at some other viruses that we could use as models to show that that chain could be open."

Dr Sundberg says that this is all ongoing research of which the outcome is currently unknown.

He says hopefully the work will show that that chain is not open and he would very much welcome that, but it's something we need to know for sure.