Diseases Strike Abroad

The U.S. is on high alert to ensure foreign animal disease threats stay outside the country’s borders. ( Farm Journal Media )

Tariffs and disease—two words that bring fear into every livestock producer and industry stakeholder. Even as trade talks continue, the U.S. is on high alert to ensure foreign animal disease threats stay outside the country’s borders.

“African swine fever could potentially be the worst animal health crisis the world has ever seen,” said Curt Hudnutt, executive vice president of Rural Banking, North America, Rabobank, during the Kansas City Ag Outlook Forum. In the meantime, there’s tremendous opportunity for the U.S. protein complex, particularly poultry and beef, he added.

The various disease threats underline the need for producers and feed suppliers to review and increase biosecurity protocols. Producers also hope a foreign animal disease vaccine bank, included in the current draft of the next farm bill, will provide additional resources. The National Pork Producers
Council estimates the U.S. will need an inventory of 10 million doses of foot and mouth disease vaccine for the first two weeks of a potential outbreak.

The vaccine bank would also need to store foot and mouth disease antigen against all 23 of the common types of the disease. Funding for the vaccine bank, however, is unclear. 

African Swine Fever Spreads in China, Europe

Since August, China has reported 29 cases of African swine fever (ASF) in eight provinces, according to the World Animal Health Information database. Nearly 40,000 pigs have died or been culled because of ASF.

To help contain the disease, China banned transportation of live hog and pig products in 16 regions. The ban has interrupted supply channels, which is further complicated by the trade war between China and the U.S.

China handily ranks first in pork production worldwide.

In Belgium, ASF has been confirmed in 32 wild pigs. While no cases have been found on commercial farms, more than 4,000 domestic pigs from the same region have been culled.

ASF is a contagious hemorrhagic disease with a range of clinical signs and lesions. There’s no vaccine or treatment, and it doesn’t affect human health.

Classical Swine Fever in Japan After 26 Years

Also known as hog cholera, classical swine fever (CSF) was identified in early September on a farm in central Japan, killing 80 pigs. The Swine Health Information Center says the remaining 610 pigs on the farm were culled to contain the outbreak and no clear origin of the infection has been found. The site is more than 500 miles from major hog production areas.

Unrelated to ASF cases in China, CSF presents similar clinical symptoms with mortality rates of nearly 100%.

The last CSF outbreak in the country was in 1992. Commercial vaccines are available but have not been used since 2007, when the disease was eradicated.

Exports have been suspended until Japan’s veterinary services can determine if control measures are sufficient. Japan is one of the top 10 pork producing countries in the world.

Foot and Mouth Disease Continues to Torment

ASF is not the only disease China’s Ministry of Agriculture is struggling to contain. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in a herd of cattle was found in early September and later confirmed as the O-type strain of the disease.

The cattle had been transported to the Xinjiang region from Gansu province. Authorities culled 47 cattle following the outbreak, which is now under control, according to the Chinese ministry.

However, this is the eighth case of the O-type strain found in livestock in China this year. In August, China culled 173 pigs due to FMD.

South Korea has reported FMD this year as well. In both countries, there is extensive vaccination for the disease, but the efficacy of the vaccine and the compliance to the vaccination regime can vary widely.