Be prepared in case HPAI, ASF strike in US at same time

State and federal veterinary officials may be spread thin from an outbreak of one animal disease to be able to fully devote to an outbreak of another disease, a National Pork Board official cautioned.

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Stephanie Wisdom, animal welfare director for the National Pork Board, says that if African swine fever were to be confirmed in a U.S. pig herd, veterinary officials may already be spread thin due to a possible highly pathogenic avian influenza response.
Stephanie Wisdom, animal welfare director for the National Pork Board, says that if African swine fever were to be confirmed in a U.S. pig herd, veterinary officials may already be spread thin due to a possible highly pathogenic avian influenza response.
Roy Graber

While many challenges will occur if a U.S. pig operation were to become infected with African swine fever (ASF) one challenge people may not think of is a potential lack of state and federal veterinary officials to deal with the response.

This could especially be true if there is another animal disease outbreak system occurring.

Stephanie Wisdom, National Pork Board director of animal welfare, while speaking during the World Pork Expo on June 7 in Des Moines, Iowa, said this is somewhat likely, especially since highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) appears to still be circulating in wild bird populations.

The U.S. has not had a confirmed case of HPAI in a commercial poultry flock since April 19, but it had several backyard flocks affected by HPAI as recently as May 18, and the last confirmed case in a wild bird occurred as recently as May 30.

“There may not be just one emergency going on at a time. If we are to get a foreign animal disease like ASF in the country, from what we’ve seen recently, it’s not unlikely that we’ll also have HPAI, so you’re resources are going to be spread pretty thin from state and federal (animal health agencies) to make sure that we’re addressing all of the different needs,” Wisdom said.

Such a scenario has already happened in the U.S., although it did not involve an active case of ASF. What it did involve, said Lisa Becton, director of Swine Health, National Pork Board, were some FAD preparedness exercises being conducted in four states. During the time one of those exercises was being conducted in one of those states, some veterinary personnel were unable to take part because they were busy responding to an active case of HPAI.

Wisdom advised all producers in the room that it is not only important to have a response plan in place, but to also have good communications and well-established relationships with local and state veterinarians.

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