USDA wants names, addresses to combat deadly swine virus
PERRY, Iowa – A disease with no cure is killing piglets across the country. Now, the Agriculture Department wants more information on where it’s cropping up.
USDA’s announcement last week that it would require mandatory reporting of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) is a departure from the current reporting procedure.
At present, pork producers have their herd’s veterinarian diagnose the disease; samples are sent to a diagnostic lab, which determines if the diagnosis is correct. The lab then reports both total suspected cases and confirmed positive cases through the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which reaches the American Association of Swine Veterinarians as aggregate data and is reported weekly.
American Association of Swine Veterinarians Executive Director Dr. Tom Burkgren says the network data is a little less than what USDA is now looking for.
“The issue there is [the labs are] just reporting positive cases,” Burkgren explains, “so we know perhaps the state of where that positive case occurred, but they don’t report the address or the name of the producer or farmer. So with mandatory reporting from USDA, they’re looking at getting the farmer’s name, [and] the geographic location of every positive herd of the United States.”
While hog farmers may be hesitant to share names and addresses without knowing how it would help them, Burkgren has no doubts pork producers will support moves to enhance biosecurity and improve swine health. However, in addition to mandatory reporting, USDA also intends to track movements of pigs, vehicles and equipment leaving affected areas; Burkgren says the extra workload may not receive a warm reception from producers.
“I went back and looked at a number of farms I’m familiar with,” says Burkgren. “They represent about 200,000 sows. In one week’s time, those farms report about 750 movement per week. Multiply that by about 30 to get an idea of about how many movements would occur across the United States. That’s a lot of movement; a lot of movement data. I don’t think producers really want an onerous process, because they don’t want to be further disadvantaged by this disease than they already are by the disease itself.”