For the second year in a row, University of Illinois veterinary student Zack Talbert has received the Morrison Swine Innovator Prize, an award given to veterinary students who want to specialize in swine medicine. The award was presented September 22nd at the annual Allen D. Leman Swine Conference.
All North American veterinary students with an interest in swine health and production were eligible. Talbert’s presentation on testing the performance of a fumigation box designed to improve the removal of pathogens from objects entering a swine barn, persuaded reviewers to award him the Prize. Talbert won in 2019 for inventing the Bio-Barrier 360.
It’s estimated that current fumigation practices are only 50% effective in removing pathogens. Talbert tested his Biosecurity Box in a small-scale trial against other fumigation equipment. It’s the first controlled trial that tests the performance of fumigation equipment.
Every biosecurity practice is important these days.Zack Talbert
Small cardboard boxes were coated with PED virus, then treated with one of the fumigation methods, and placed in pens with pigs that were naive to the virus. Also, each box was swabbed with a sterile gauze pad, which was used to orally inoculate the pig. The pig that interacted with the cardboard box treated in the Biosecurity Box was the only animal that did not acquire the PED virus within five days after exposure.
“Every biosecurity practice is important these days,” Talbert says, “so we should make sure each action is as effective as possible. For several diseases, we need to do a better job of reducing the entry of pathogens by fomites.” His father and brother are iron workers who helped Talbert create the prototype.
Talbert is a fourth-year veterinary student and hopes to work primarily in the swine industry while keeping a hand in a mixed animal practice. The Armington, Ill. native plans to continue using science, innovation, and ingenuity to improve production practices industry wide.
Talbert received a cash award of $5,000 plus complimentary registration and travel costs to attend the Leman Swine Conference. The Morrison Swine Innovator Prize honors the legacy of the late Bob Morrison, DVM, PhD, MBA, who coordinated the conference for many years. The Prize is sponsored by leading swine producers, veterinary practices, and industry partners.
The Prize has been awarded three times, and won every time by University of Illinois veterinary students. Megan Bloemer won in 2018 for her work on improving biosecurity practices at truck washes.
The Allen D. Leman Swine Conference is an annual educational event for the global swine industry. It is internationally acclaimed for bringing science-driven solutions to the complex challenges facing the industry. Each year hundreds of participants from over 20 countries attend, including swine veterinarians and other professionals working in swine production and animal health management. The next conference will be held September 18-21, 2021.