Keeping up with a changing world: new challenges, new technologies, new people

From hog cholera and pseudorabies to dendograms and microbiome

Things looked very different in the world of swine health and production when the Leman Swine Conference was inaugurated in 1974. It would be another four years until hog cholera would be officially eradicated from the USA, and 13 years until the appearance of PRRS. The US was a net importer of pork and pseudorabies was an emerging disease. Artificial insemination was virtually unheard of on commercial farms, and biosecurity, as we know it, was in its infancy.  The personal computer was about to make its debut in 1975, but it would be more than a decade (most notably with the development of PigCHAMP at the University of Minnesota), until computerized herd management software would evolve to become a mainstay of managing herds. Back then, access to data and information was at a premium, and for the 44 years since The Leman Swine Conference has provided a vibrant venue to exchange and discuss ideas and experiences, both practical and scientific. However, in contrast to 1974, our challenge is no longer how to access information, but how to digest and make sense of the deluge of information coming at us from endless sources.

While the transformation of swine production in the field has been stunning, it has been no less so in the scientific realm. Words such as PCR, sequencing, dendrogram, and microbiome, flow easily from the tongues of veterinarians today, but were not in the lexicon in 1974. We all know we are now in the era of “Big Data” where advancements in computer science and computational analysis have endowed us with tools to perform complex analyses at unprecedented speeds. The time-honored goal and purpose of the Leman Swine Conference, namely to foster the cross-fertilization of ideas between the science and practice of swine health and production, must find its footing in this new world of near real-time information acquisition, analysis and reporting. For those of us who were weaned on to traditional diets of veterinary medicine and animal sciences, this is not a trivial challenge, and more than ever there is a need for us to work across disciplines with people who have the relevant skill sets. We are fortunate that the state of Minnesota and its university have been proactive in recognizing and responding to these new opportunities.

New researchers to address these new challenges

In the 2015 legislative session, the Minnesota state legislature authorized a multi-year investment known as the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer Program (AGREETT).  The vision of the AGREETT program was to support positions for new faculty, technicians and graduate students to work in seven key areas to support agriculture in Minnesota:

  • Crop and livestock productivity
  • Microbial science
  • Advancing soil fertility and water quality
  • Agricultural technology and decision-making
  • Nutrient recycling and management
  • Agro-ecological innovation
  • Technologies aimed at managing pest resistance and climate change

Many of these new positions at the University have recently been filled, including six faculty hires at the College of Veterinary Medicine, three of whom were featured in the 2018 Leman Conference program.

Dr. Kim VanderWaal

Kim VanderWaal, PhD is a native Minnesotan with degrees from the University of Minnesota and University of California-Davis.Kim was recruited for the “Big Data” AGREETT position in the Department of Veterinary Population Medicine (VPM) where she was already working with the swine group on disease modeling projects and is involved in data analysis with the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project. Kim’s interests surround the use of large data sets to better understand pathogen movements within agricultural production systems, and other complex problems including aspects of food safety and antibiotic resistance. Kim lead the pre-conference workshop titled “Geeks to Geeks: A practitioner’s guide to designing research studies” involving several speakers addressing issues of study design and analysis, including case studies. As you are all aware, the growth of applied research conducted in industry makes this an important area for today’s veterinarians to build their skill base.

Dr. Noelle Noyes

Noelle Noyes, DVM, PhD, was recruited for the AGREETT position in antimicrobial resistance in the VPM department. She is a native of New York who did her undergraduate studies at Amherst, Massachusetts, then completed a joint DVM/PhD program at Colorado State University. Her doctoral research focused on antimicrobial use and resistance in feedlot cattle. Noelle brings state-of-the-art expertise in bioinformatics and shotgun sequencing of the microbiome, and is eager to apply her skills for the benefit of the swine industry in Minnesota.  At the Leman Conference, Noelle spoke in the break-out session titled “New Directions in Antibiotic Use and Resistance”. Her talk was titled “Antimicrobial use and Antimicrobial Resistance – How Will We Ever Understand It?” where she presented her perspectives on how new tools and approaches can help us address this important challenge.

Dr. Declan Schroeder

VPM also gained an AGREETT position in Pathogen Discovery and Surveillance, and successfully recruited Declan Schroeder, PhD to this position. Declan is an experienced molecular virologist who holds an honorary Chair in Viral Metagenomics in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Reading, United Kingdom. He has over 20 years of research experience as a molecular biologist in the areas of virology, biodiversity, pathology, and genomics – in particular, the use of genomic tools to study key biological processes. His research focuses on a diverse array of host-virus systems, including the honeybee. He was the former Director of the Marine Biological Association of the UK Culture Collection where he was also a Senior Research Fellow in Viral and Molecular Ecology (2001-2018). Declan made a presentation titled ‘Molecular diagnostics: Present and future, in the Disease Diagnosis and Research break out session. His move to Minnesota means that the Schroeder lab will continue to develop molecular tools to enhance detection and surveillance to secure and improve agricultural productivity.        

Space does not permit detailed introduction of another dozen AGREETT hires in other Departments and Colleges across the University, but several of them have roles that will support the swine industry. These include Erin Cortus (agricultural engineer focused on manure and odor management, CFANS); Andres Gomez (microbiome, CFANS); Melissa Wilson (manure management and soil science, CFANS); Diane DeWitte (swine extension educator, CFANS); and Peter Larsen (host-pathogen interactions) and Mathew Aliota (vector-borne diseases) in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, CVM.

This group of talented researchers complements a well-established group of swine researchers,including our new Leman Chair Cesar Corzo, to strengthen our capacity to work with stakeholders to address the daily and emerging challenges of the swine industry.

Please keep a look out for Kim, Noelle, Declan, Erin and Andres, and help welcome them to our community. It is important to let them know or what you are seeing and doing in the field to help bring science and practice into alignment,and honor the tradition of Al Leman and Bob Morrison.

New position in Swine Health, Production and Economics at the UMN

Join the swine group at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota!

job opening UMN swineThe University of Minnesota has a new position open in swine health, production and economics.  We consider it an important position as we strive to integrate all our work into strategies and training that protect and improve the profitability of swine farms.  For those that are interested, please apply or contact John Deen.  If you know of someone who could be a good fit, please urge her or him to apply.  We appreciate the support that the swine group has received and we look forward to welcoming this new member to UMN.

You can read more about the position here or apply here.

We are excited to meet with you!

The U of MN well represented at the NA PRRS Symposium

The first week-end in December is usually the time of the North American PRRS symposium. This year did not upset the tradition but this time, the conference was in collaboration with the National Swine Improvement Federation.

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The 2017 NA PRRS meeting was dedicated to Dr. Bob Morrison.

The meeting was dedicated to our friend and colleague Dr. Bob Morrison. A memorial fellowship organized by Dr. Montse Torremorell (U of MN) and Dr. Joan Lunney (USDA) provided travel support to future scientists who wish to follow in his footsteps.

Stephen Gerike from the Pork Checkoff shared information on the state of pork products used in restaurant. Bacon represents 20% of products used but is still growing (+4% since last year).

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Stephen Gerike shared the updated cooking recommendations for pork product.

 Overall, 82% of restaurant customers eat the same or larger amount of pork which is a good trend for the industry. Mr. Gerike also shared the efforts done by Pork Checkoff to convince consumers to not overcook their pork. Reminder: 145F is safe. “Cook your pork like you cook your steak!”

 

The University of Minnesota was well represented during the conference. Dr. Montse Torremorell moderated the Saturday morning session on PRRS in the field. Drs. Cesar Corzo, Carles Vilalta and Juan Sanhueza shared the updates on the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Program as well as regarding the studies that they are involved with. Take away messages:

  • MSHMP is now collecting information from 50% of the sows in the United States.
  • Based on this data, 58% of the farms breaking with PRRSV today will break again within a year.
  • PRRS summer outbreaks happen and vary based on location (see figure below).
  • Farms take a longer time to reach stability after a summer outbreak (median 41.5 weeks)
  • Processing fluids can be used as a monitoring method for PRRS.

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Dr. Perle Boyer shared the launching of an online course designed in collaboration with Iowa State University regarding genetic resistance to PRRSV. The course will be open in Spring 2018 and is designed for swine health professionals, veterinarians and experts who want to know more about the Principles and application of genetics and genomics to improve animal health.

 

Webinar on Senecavirus A from Dr. Sturos tomorrow 03/28 at 4pm

Matt Sturos
Dr. Matt Sturos

Dr. Matt Sturos, diagnostic pathologist at the University of Minnesota, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will be presenting the latest information on Senecavirus A in swine, tomorrow at 4pm in a learning session organized by the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA). Participants can join in person at the MVMA conference room or online via WebEX.

 

More information here

AASV 2017: Another great year for the UMN-CVM students and faculty

The UMN CVM students did a fantastic job at the 2017 American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) meeting this past weekend. Four students presented their projects as an oral presentation. Zhen Yang, Alyssa Anderson, Hunter Baldry and Chris Deegan were all recognized by a jury for their hard work and commitment to the swine industry.
Taylor Homann, Donna Drebes, and Kevin Gustafson all got the opportunity to present their work as poster presentations.

Lastly, two out of the three awards given by Boehringer Ingelheim to advance the research on swine respiratory pathogens were given to Dr. Marie Culhane and Dr. Carlos Vilalta for their project on swine influenza and Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSV) respectively.

Congratulations to all!

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The UMN swine group will be at the 48th AASV meeting in Denver

Next week-end will start the 48th American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) meeting in Denver, CO. As usual, numerous UMN-CVM faculty and graduate students will be attending and presenting the results of their latest research. We hare looking forward  to seeing you there!

Pre-conference seminars:

  • Doug Marthaler: Porcine rotaviruses: what we know and what we are still missing
  • Maria Pieters: Current tools to approach Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae diagnostic cases

Research topics:

  • Michael Murtaugh: Broadly neutralizing antibodies to recent, virulent type 2 PRRSV isolates
  • Michael Rahe: Characterization of the memory immune response to PRRSV infection
  • Fabian Chamba Pardo: Effect of influenza prevalence at weaning on transmission, clinical signs and performance after weaning
  • Talita Resende: Mycoplasma hyorhinis associated with conjunctivitis in pigs

Antibiotic session:

  • Peter Davies: Antibiotic use metrics

Managing the reproductive herd for high health and productivity

  • Maria Pieters: A pig’s early challenges

Student session:

  • Alyssa Anderson: Use of molecular characterization tools to investigate Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae outbreaks
  • Hunter Baldry: Evaluation of positive pressure filtration to reduce aerosol transmission of PRRSV during an experimental challenge of farm access points
  • Chris Deegan: Dynamics of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae colonization, seroconversion and onset of clinical signs in a population of gilts under field conditions
  • Zhen Yang: Investigating Porcine Circovirus Associated Disease (PCVAD) in commercial swine herd by next generation sequencing

Posters:

  • Fabian Chamba Pardo: Influenza A virus prevalence and seasonality in midwestern US breeding herds
  • Donna Drebes: Trends in Lawsonia intracellularis PCR to the submissions to the UMN-VDL over a 10-year period
  • Kevin Gustafson: B-cell tetramer monitoring of the memory immune response to PRRSV
  • Taylor Homann: Characterizing piglet loss from PRRS outbreak

 

 

Defining parameters to develop epidemiological models of a Foot and Mouth Disease incursion: meta-analysis of the disease biology

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Models are primordial to develop the best control and eradication measures as well as to decrease response time in the event of a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) incursion on US soil. However, to be as representative of real-life situation as possible, these models need the most accurate information on disease biology. This scientific article, written by a U of M team of epidemiologists: Drs. Kinsley, Patterson, VanderWaal, Craft, and Perez, is a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature defining what the exact values for the duration of various disease periods such as: latency, incubation and sub-clinical phases are. The total duration of infection is also examined.

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Time course of a FMD infection in pigs infected through contact with an inoculated pig.

Abstract: In the event of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) incursion, response strategies are required to control, contain, and eradicate the pathogen as efficiently as possible. Infectious disease simulation models are widely used tools that mimic disease dispersion in a population and that can be useful in the design and support of prevention and mitigation activities. However, there are often gaps in evidence-based research to supply models with quantities that are necessary to accurately reflect the system of interest. The objective of this study was to quantify values associated with the duration of the stages of FMD infection (latent period, subclinical period, incubation period, and duration of infection), probability of transmission (within-herd and between-herd via spatial spread), and diagnosis of a vesicular disease within a herd using a meta-analysis of the peer-reviewed literature and expert opinion. The latent period ranged from 1 to 7 days and incubation period ranged from 1 to 9 days; both were influenced by strain. In contrast, the subclinical period ranged from 0 to 6 days and was influenced by sampling method only. The duration of infection ranged from 1 to 10 days. The probability of spatial spread between an infected and fully susceptible swine farm was estimated as greatest within 5 km of the infected farm, highlighting the importance of possible long-range transmission through the movement of infected animals. Finally, while most swine practitioners are confident in their ability to detect a vesicular disease in an average sized swine herd, a small proportion expect that up to half of the herd would need to show clinical signs before detection via passive surveillance would occur. The results of this study will be useful in within- and between-herd simulation models to develop efficient response strategies in the event an FMD in swine populations of disease-free countries or regions.

Link to the full article

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