The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) engages more than 40 industry stakeholders in two Working Groups advising the activities of the organization. Pork producers, practicing and consulting veterinarians, university researchers, allied industries, and state and federal animal health officials all contribute to helping guide SHIC in monitoring, preventing, preparing, and responding to emerging production diseases. The Working Groups support SHIC nimbleness in the event a quick decision or response is needed.
Group members are highly skilled professionals able to provide needed input. In a recent example, the Working Groups monitored Swine Acute Diarrhea Syndrome Coronavirus (SADS-CoV), a newly identified coronavirus variant emerging in China. Though it was reported in Chinese pigs early in 2017, SHIC’s Monitoring and Analysis Working Group advised action was not immediately needed as the variant at that time was not moving from province to province. When, in late 2017, that movement was detected, the threat to the U.S. herd rose so the strategy quickly changed. The Preparedness and Response Working Group acted on the information from the Monitoring and Analysis Working group to oversee development of a test for SADS-CoV to be sure it would be detectable if it got to the US.
No matter when the Working Group may need to be convened, due to the size of the group quick response is possible due to a critical mass of participants able to engage. The members are all industry veterans, well-respected, and valuable to the process. Their recommendations and feedback on the issues addressed during regular business of SHIC as well as in times of urgency provide direction, collaboration, and further information. International members of the Working Group members with international contacts deliver a much-needed perspective, sharing information directly from their countries which is relevant to swine disease threats in the U.S.
Organizationally, SHIC’s policies, yearly plan of work and budget are set by the Board of Directors. The Working Groups then advise on the direct work of the Center, helping with programs, research, and response. It is SHIC’s intention for research and response activities to be able to happen quickly for the benefit of the U.S. swine herd.