Animal Disease Prevention - Pork Checkoff

Animal Disease Prevention

Pig farmers work with their veterinarians regularly to help find ways to protect animals from disease threats.

However, today’s global movements of people and pigs pose greater risks to herd health than ever before. This makes implementing on-farm disease prevention and mitigation strategies critical to maintaining overall herd health and preventing the introduction or spread of disease.

Foreign Animal Diseases

An occurrence of a foreign animal disease in U.S. swine herds would devastate the pork industry. Left undetected and unaddressed, all exports would be halted, driving prices down. Good security and biosecurity practices are critical for protecting farms from foreign animal disease. Below is a list of the top diseases to protect against.

Top FADs to Know

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African Swine Fever

African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. It can spread very quickly in pig populations through direct or indirect contact. After direct or non-tickborne contact with the virus, ASF is mainly thought to enter the body through the upper respiratory tract. There is no vaccine or treatment available and there is no evidence that ASF can infect humans. The U.S. is an ASF-free region, but if an outbreak is suspected then a veterinarian should be contacted immediately. 

Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral disease that can cause illness in animals with divided hooves. FMD is not a public health or food safety concern and also is not related to the common childhood illness hand, foot and mouth disease. Most affected animals will not die from FMD, but the disease leaves them weakened and unable to produce meat the way they did before. FMD has been eradicated from the U.S., but it remains a worldwide concern. Animal health agencies and checkoff programs invest many resources in preventing the disease from reentering the country. 

Classical Swine Fever

Classical swine fever (CSF) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. The disease has been eradicated from the U.S. since 1978, although outbreaks have occurred in some foreign countries. Pigs can become infected after eating food contaminated with the virus. It’s then spread by contact with any bodily discharge from the infected pig and can be carried by other pigs or objects, like equipment or clothing. Veterinarians should be called immediately if there is any suspicion of disease. CSF does not affect humans.

Domestic Diseases

There are many pig diseases that producers continue to battle every day whether they are from bacterial or viral pathogens. The biggest of these diseases continues to be PRRS, including newer, more virulent strains. The National Pork Board continues to fund research to find new ways to protect against all domestic disease threats.

Top Domestic Diseases to Know

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PRRS

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a disease characterized by two overlapping clinical presentations: reproductive impairment or failure and respiratory disease in pigs of any age. PRRS is a worldwide concern, including in the U.S. The virus is spread by nasal secretions, saliva, feces and urine and can be airborne for up to two miles.

Control strategy for PRRS varies, and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately if an infection is suspected. The National Pork Board produced the PRRS book, a comprehensive resource of Checkoff-funded research for producers, veterinarians and researchers.

Influenza

Influenza viruses are common in swine, usually causing a high rate of infection but few deaths. In many instances swine show no signs of illness. Animals typically begin getting sick 1–3 days after being infected with the virus. Symptoms may include coughing or barking, sneezing, high fever, difficulty breathing, runny nose, not eating, or not wanting to get up and move around.

If you see any of these signs in your pigs, try to isolate the sick animal(s) from the rest of the herd, provide supportive care, and contact your veterinarian.

Mycoplasma

14 Biosecurity Resources

Prevent and prepare for animal diseases by educating your team to monitor herd health and enforce biosecurity. Check out this collection of 14 biosecurity resources to help producers review biosecurity protocols.

Reliable Resources on Foreign Animal Disease