Dr Peter Evans, SAPPO’s health liaison officer
The biggest question that remains (mostly) unanswered is: “How did the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus get into the USA?”. The question will probably never be fully answered and speculation will continue for many years to come.
Recent research has shown that the manufacturing process for plasma protein kills PED virus, dispelling the theory that plasma protein per se was the introduction route. Yes, virus was found in plasma protein, but could only have got there due to post-manufacturing contamination. Temperatures achieved during manufacturing inactivates PEDv.
The other myth is that the infection came from China. PEDv in the USA is similar to Chinese variants, but there are other countries with PEDv whose strains have not be shared with researchers in the US for comparative purposes. The disease could have been introduced from other countries.
At the 2014 International Pig Veterinary Congress, Dr John Harding presented a paper on trans-boundary and emerging pig diseases. Summarised below, is a few of the important comments made:
1. Modern intensive pig production methods will increase the development of new pig-specific diseases, whereas new potentially zoonotic diseases are more likely to occur in developing nations where socio-economic and animal husbandry methods drive close contact between humans and animals.
2. In preparation for his paper, Dr Harding surveyed veterinarians on every continent, asking the questions: “What should we ‘stop’ doing, and secondly what should we ‘start’ doing to reduce the risk of trans-boundary diseases?”. In short the “stop” answers were related to feed and biosecurity; the “start” answers were biosecurity and global collaboration and transparency
3. In the third part of the presentation Dr Harding looked at accountability. He determined that a) industry should expect “too little, too late” responses from government in the face of new disease outbreaks, b) the industry needs to develop a more sustainable quality-driven pork industry, c) the industry should discontinue the use of animal protein in feed, and d) ban the trade of fresh semen and live pig trade (as 4 of 10 points).
In other presentations at IPVS 2014, similar sentiments on biosecurity plus the need for producers to take control of biosecurity on their farms was expressed.
In South Africa we address biosecurity on farms via SAPPO’s compartment system and at the height of the CSF and PRRS outbreaks a few years back and the recent FMD outbreak, the value to producers became very apparent.
Regrettably, now that these diseases are under control many producers do not see the value of remaining or becoming a compartment. It is SAPPO’s firm believe that compartments are a minimum safety measure, which should be adopted and implemented on all farms. The USA with all its resources and strong academic/research institutions could not prevent or mitigate the devastation of PEDv during 2013/2014. Local producers cannot expect South Africa to be different, especially as government financial resources are directed to areas other than research and academia. In the words of Dr Hardy: “Although we welcome government support, we should not expect it”. We as a pork industry need to protect ourselves.
Producers should regard compartments similarly to security in their homes. You need to have good perimeter controls, control access of undesirables, and develop good habits on setting alarms and switching on lights etc. One cannot always see the danger, but the more difficult one makes entry of danger, the more likely you will keep it out.
The Pork 360 and compartment systems were designed to be very similar, to facilitate producers in having one set of standard operating procedures, documentation and records/registers. It is SAPPO’s intention to maintain the similarity, while ensuring that the aims of both schemes are achieved.
The compartment system is managed by sate veterinarians and is thus an officially recognised programme accepted by our trading partners. SAPPO and pig veterinarians will facilitate producers registering with veterinary services and will assist with maintaining their compartment status.
There are currently just over 40 000 sows in compartments. SAPPO believes that many more producers should become compartmentalised as a means of protecting their extremely large investments in their businesses. SAPPO continues to refund producers for the serological tests required to be a compartment.
Compartmentalisation remains a minimum requirement should one want to export pork out of South Africa.
Pork 360 is managed by SAPPO and has become accepted by retailers as the preferred quality assurance scheme for pork in South Africa.
Please feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or at SAPPO’s offices 012 361 3920.