Biosecurity Key to Reducing Disease Outbreaks

Most of the hog industry has turned the corner when it comes to the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.

Chris Rademacher, Extension swine veterinarian with Iowa State University, says two years ago, roughly 50 percent of the nation’s breeding herd had been infected. This past winter, he says, that number fell to three to five percent.

“And most of it we saw in early winter,” Rademacher says. “We’ve done a pretty good job dealing with it.”

There was some concern ahead of this winter that new gilts would not carry the immunity older sows developed after being exposed to the virus. Rademacher says some producers chose to hold off bringing in new gilts, while others developed their own gilts off-site and exposed them to PED prior to breeding.

Others, he says, brought in naïve gilts and have dealt with the virus.

“Everyone is going to get their farms cleaned up, but how long do you want to hold off on bringing in new gilts?” Rademacher says.

He adds there could be instances where new gilts may have caused a second or third break of PED on that particular farm.

Producers have implemented more restrictive biosecurity programs, and Rademacher says not only has that attitude helped reduce PED, but it has taken a bite out of cases of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS).

“We have probably seen a reduction of PRRS due to the increased biosecurity on farms,” he says. “I think PED has really helped reinforce the importance of having a good biosecurity program.”

Like PED, outbreaks of PRRS are more prevalent in cold weather. Rademacher says late October and early November saw a number of PRRS cases, but as the weather has warmed up, producers have seen more relief.

“We still see plenty of cases, more than we would like,” he says.

Another disease producers have been dealing with is the Seneca Valley virus. Rademacher says unlike PED and PRRS, that disease likes warmer weather.

“We did not see much of it in November and December, but there are still some positive samples around,” he says. “We see more cases of Seneca Valley virus in the summer, so we will have to wait and see what happens when it’s warmer.”

After a disastrous outbreak of avian influenza last year, the number of cases has been drastically reduced in the Midwest.

Dustin VandeHoef, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says Iowa has been clean for several months.

“We have not had any cases of avian influenza in the state since last June,” he says.

“The final quarantine of an infected premise was lifted in December. The focus has been on preparing in case there is another outbreak as part of the spring migration of wild waterfowl.”

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