Swine vets watching horizon for new diseases

Experts review role swine veterinarians play in discovering and sharing information about new and emerging disease outbreaks.

While the latest information on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) was being shared at the 45th annual meeting of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians in Dallas, Texas, this week, several speakers at the opening general session took a step back and reviewed the role of swine veterinarians in discovering and sharing information about new and emerging disease outbreaks, of which PEDV is the most recent example.

Dr. Daryl Olsen emphasized that science must be the driving force behind every decision swine veterinarians make in evidence-based medicine.

The PEDV situation is very fluid, Dr. Mark Engle explained, noting that something new is learned every week. It is a prime example of population medicine including individual daily pig care, achieving accurate diagnostics for the benefit of the population and establishing a rapid, uniform herd immune response to minimize morbidity and mortality by the best means available.

Engle posited that a "fundamental change" has occurred, noting that within the last year, three Asian strains of PEDV and a swine deltacoronavirus have entered the U.S.

Looking to the future, Dr. Jer Geiger asked meeting attendees if they would recognize the enemy, noting that many foreign animal diseases look like endemic diseases. He quoted Dr. Beth Lautner, who, in 1999, said, "It is not if but when a foreign animal disease will appear" in the U.S.

Geiger said not recognizing and dealing appropriately with emerging diseases has severe consequences, including a direct impact on production followed by an impact on exports. He concluded with two warnings: (1) in the event of a foreign disease outbreak, do not expect support or assistance from outsiders (other countries) as they are looking to the U.S. for solutions to the same disease, and (2) do not take North American diagnostic resources (both laboratories and personnel) for granted as they are western luxuries not enjoyed in other parts of the world.

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