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Biosecurity is the best barrier to a catastrophic disease outbreak

The Executive Director of the Swine Health Information Center says biosecurity needs to remain top of mind in North America as African swine fever continues to spread in Asia and eastern Europe.

20 June 2019, at 9:18am

The Swine Health Information Center's June Global Disease Monitoring Report indicates African swine fever (ASF) continues to move around southeast Asia: Vietnam is experiencing a lot of outbreaks; North Korea reported a first infection; there has been an outbreak in a large commercial operation in eastern Poland in the area that was already positive; and classical swine fever (CSF) and foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease remain endemic in certain areas of the world.

Speaking to Farmscape, Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Dr Paul Sundberg says pressure on North America has certainly increased.

"We've been at risk of ASF, CSF and FMD for decades," says Dr Sundberg.

"They [the diseases] have been around the world and they've been endemic in different places so we certainly have that risk.

"But for African swine fever, the circulation and the concentration of that virus in China and southeast Asia as well as in Eastern Europe, increases the pressure that we have on the North American, US and Canadian and Mexican production.

"While we have been at risk in the past, I believe the pressure from that virus has increased and, although we can not quantify it, I expect that means that's an increased risk from the virus getting into the country.

"There's been a lot of talk among the North American countries, Canada, the US and Mexico, about how to prevent and how to coordinate and make sure that we're doing everything we can do as North American production to keep that virus out of the country."

Dr Sundberg says top of mind for producers and for veterinarians should be biosecurity. He says biosecurity on the farm is that last hurdle for keeping both endemic and foreign animals diseases from reaching the pigs.