Vigilance key to tackling threat from new diseases

For many farms the losses were significant from last year’s PRRS disease crisis, says Ciarán Carroll, Head of the Pig Development Department at Teagasc Moorepark.

One year on he is advising that vigilance now is the key to keep two new disease threats out of Ireland — African Swine Fever (ASF) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PEDv). Neither disease has ever been recorded in Ireland.

ASF is one of the most important and serious diseases of domestic pigs.

There is no treatment or vaccine available for ASF.

EU legislation requires that all infected and exposed animals on infected premises are killed, carcases are safely disposed of, infected premises are cleaned and disinfected, surveillance and tracing of potentially infected or exposed animals are carried out, and there is strict control on movements of pigs and pig products within infected areas.

ASF can be successfully eradicated if the disease is detected early, and controls are rapidly introduced.

PEDv has become increasingly problematic in Asia, and has spread to North America.

In pigs three weeks and younger, PEDv can lead to 100% mortality.

Biosecurity regimes are central to control.

While biosecurity on Irish farms has improved over the last year, recent farm visits have highlighted a need for greater effort, and the threat of ASF and PEDv should focus the mind, said Mr Carroll.

Are you keeping visitors to your farm to a minimum?

Are you adhering to a shower-in/shower-out regime for all visitors?

How good is your pest control plan?

Have you adequate quarantine facilities for incoming stock?

Are you checking veterinary certs from your AI/Breeding Stock supplier?

Are your suppliers adhering to the National Pig Health Council Codes of Practice for the Importation of fresh and frozen semen, and live pigs?

General Recommendations

Access gates should be closed.

Erect a sign with a contact number to gain access.

Build a perimeter fence to prevent vehicle and wildlife entry.

Keep visitor access to a minimum.

Require a “clean time” between units.

Provide shower facilities, clean clothing and boots.

Locate feed bins, loading bays and slurry points at the fence-line.

Provide disinfectant wheel wash and footbath facilities at the fence-line (and ensure that they are replenished regularly).

Drivers should not enter the unit.

Erect a mailbox at the feed delivery point for dockets.

Drivers involved in loading pigs should be given separate clothing and boots.

Vehicles should arrive empty, washed and disinfected.

Clean and disinfect the area once the vehicle leaves.

Remove dead animals to a suitable location for collection.

Ensure good rodent control. Lay baits on the perimeter and throughout the unit.

Use wire mesh to prevent bird entry.

Never allow pets (cats, dogs) onto the unit.

Incoming Stock

Purchased breeding stock should have a veterinary health cert.

Regular and updated veterinary reports should be sought from the source herd, but these are not a guarantee of the absence of disease, merely that its presence was not detected by testing.

Appropriate tests should have been carried out for the specific diseases being monitored.

To reduce the risk of introducing diseases with incoming stock, the following general guidelines should be adopted:

The health status of the source herd should be known, and the information regularly updated.

The number of source herds should be minimised; a single source of animals is preferred.

All in-coming animals should be isolated from the herd for at least four to eight weeks, depending on the incubation period of the disease being monitored.

Use separate clothing and boots and operate the quarantine area on an all-in all-out basis.

No animal should be moved from the isolation facility to the recipient herd until the most recent addition has completed the testing protocol and isolation period.

The isolation facility should be at least several hundred metres from the rest of the herd (and preferably 2km from the nearest pigs), have its own unloading facility, and be positioned so that surface drainage and prevailing winds do not carry contamination to the importing herd.

As a rule of thumb, the isolation facility should be far enough away so that it is not readily and easily accessible to staff as they perform their regular duties.

Animals should be carefully observed at least daily during the isolation period.

Pigs showing signs of illness should be separated and promptly examined by a veterinary surgeon.

Tests for diseases of specific interest should be carried out before the isolation period ends.

Acceptable test results should be received before animals are released from isolation.

Preventive treatments such as deworming and vaccination can be started in preparation for moving to the herd. The quarantine period also allows boars to be prepared for use.

Duties should be sequenced so the person caring for the isolation animals does not come into contact with other pigs later that day.

If possible, the person taking care of the isolation animals should have no other pig-contact duties.

Equipment such as feeders, shovels, scrapers, hand tools, etc., used in the isolation facility should not be used in other parts of the pig farm.

Incoming animals should have been vaccinated well before (at least three weeks) delivery to the purchaser, in order for immunity to have developed and for the purchaser to revaccinate after arrival.

Any importation of AI or stock from abroad should be notified to the Department of Agriculture (through TRACES) and the National Pig Health Council (NPHC). The NPHC has set out codes of practice for the importation of fresh and frozen semen, and live pigs.

All pig farms have received a copy of these codes of prtice.

Check that your supplier is adhering to them.

See the  website for the full copy of the Teagasc Biosecurity for Pig Farms booklet


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