Risky pigs: Moving weaned pigs during an FMD outbreak – part 1

This is our Friday rubric: every week a new Science Page from the Bob Morrison’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. The previous editions of the science page are available on our website.

Key points

  • Foreign animal diseases like FMD, ASF, and CSF are a threat to the global swine industry.
  • The response to a foreign animal disease usually involves the establishment of disease control areas within which there will be movement restrictions put in place in an attempt to stop disease spread between farms.
  • Allowing movement from a disease control area of pigs with no evidence of infection can be done without spreading disease if science-based risk mitigation measures are put in place.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a vesicular foreign animal disease that affects several domestic and wild animals, including swine. To prevent the spread of a foreign animal disease and enable eradication, outbreaks have often required quarantines that stop all live animal movements.

Diagram of pathways considered in risk assessment of moving weaned pigs from farrowing to finishing operation.

Movement restriction negatively impacts the agricultural industry, related economy and animal welfare. Proactive risk assessments can help to identify strategies that would allow managed movement of animals with an acceptable risk for disease spread. This would allow a farm to continue critical production operations for animals not known to be infected, thereby facilitating the subsequent distribution of safe food and high-quality products despite the outbreak.

The University of Minnesota, in partnership with public agencies, other academic institutions, and private industry, conducted a risk assessment of weaned pig movement from a swine farrowing facility to an off-site premise during an FMD outbreak, especially from the point of view of moving infected but undetected pigs.

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