U.S. Learning Lessons From ASF Outbreaks

Farm Journal's PORK editor Jennifer Shike and National Pork Producers Council veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom join Chip Flory on Agritalk to discuss African swine fever abroad. ( PORK )

As reports continue to come in about the spread of African swine fever through China’s hog herd, important lessons are emerging that U.S. producers are taking to heart.

1. Transportation clearly plays a large role in transmission of the virus.

“Early on we kept hearing reports of the small, backyard-type farms. But now, some of their larger biosecure farms are also breaking,” said Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council, on AgriTalk with Chip Flory on Tuesday. “There are new restrictions being placed on packing plants and around transport. But as of yet, it doesn't appear that any of those are necessarily being effective.”

With these transportation restrictions, Chinese slaughterhouses would not be able to bring in pigs without the proper identification, and they are supposed to test pigs from each lot before they are killed to make sure meat coming from pigs that have the virus does not enter the marketplace.


2. Emergency planning prevents panic.

While the U.S. has a great animal health system, there is continued need to maintain biosecurity procedures and provide clear resources to producers and veterinarians, added Jennifer Shike, editor of Farm Journal’s PORK.

“One of my concerns is disposal of pigs and how we would take care of those carcasses to prevent the outbreak from getting any larger,” Shike said.

It’s a step that all hog farmers must consider.

“With some of our large sites, that's a lot of animals to have to dispose of,” Wagstrom said. “So making sure we have humane euthanasia techniques and appropriate disposal, whether it's composting, landfilling, burying, some sort of incineration—all of those are things that we're urging producers to be talking with their state animal health officials about. Let's have a plan in advance of needing to figure out how to do this.”


Listen to Dr. Wagstrom’s commentary above about how the control of wild boars in Europe is a central piece to controlling African swine fever in those countries.


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