Science Page: Swine Global Surveillance Project: update and future steps

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.

This week, we are sharing an update on the Swine Global Surveillance Project, lead by the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety in collaboration with the UMN Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the UMN swine group and the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC).

 Key Points:

  • It is a public, private and academic partnership to implement a system for near real time global surveillance of swine diseases.
  • The output of the system is a report of hazards identified and subsequently scored that may represent a risk for the US pork industry.
  • Developing systems to provide situational awareness to stakeholders in near-real time can facilitate the coordination between government agencies and the industry with the ultimate objective of preventing or mitigating the impact of diseases epidemics.
  • The reports are available at:

The system of near real time global surveillance of swine diseases is based on an online application.  Initially focused on three main potential
threats: Classical Swine Fever (CSF), African Swine Fever (ASF), and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), it will expand to other exotic swine diseases in the US in the near future. A report, distributed on a monthly basis by SHIC, includes a list of identified hazards that may represent a risk for the US.

Swine global surveillance process steps

Several steps are needed to build the Swine Global Surveillance report as shown in the figure above.

  1. Screening/Filtering phase: Multiple official data sources and soft data sources are systematically screened to build a raw repository. After that, an Include/exclude process is undertaken under a crowdsourcing model.
  2. Scoring phase: A multi-criteria rubric was built based on: credibility, scale and speed of the outbreak, connectedness, local capacity to respond and potential financial impact on the US market. Each event is score independently by a group of experts.
  3. Quality assurance (QA)/building: Its aim being to ensure that the design, operation, and monitoring of processes/systems will comply with the principles of data integrity including control over intentional and unintentional changes to information. The monthly report is put into a PDF document automatically from the app after the scoring process is finalized. At last, assembly of figures and proofreading is done before sending it to SHIC for monthly publication.

Next steps

  • Complete automation of event capture into the database
  • Expansion of the list of diseases in the report
  • Shrinking the gap between Search/Filter phase and Final Publication – (1 week)
  • Expanding scoring experts panel
  • Process documentation – Quality assurance compliance

Science Page: Influenza herd-level prevalence and seasonality in Midwestern sow farms

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.

This week, we are sharing a report from Dr. Fabian Chamba regarding influenza herd-level prevalence and seasonality in the Midwest.

Key points:

  • Influenza is endemic and seasonal in piglets from sow farms in the Midwest with higher infections in winter and spring.
  • Influenza seasonality was partially explained by outdoor air absolute humidity and temperature trends.
  • Influenza genetic diversity was high and co-circulation of more than one genetically distinct virus was common.

To study influenza levels over time and its seasonality, monthly testing data of piglets at weaning from 34 sow farms during ~5 years were analyzed.

There were 28% of positive submissions with a median influenza herd-level prevalence of 28%. Genetic diversity was significant with 10 genetically distinct clades of contemporary US swine influenza viruses as shown below. Furthermore, 21% of farms had 3 genetically distinct viruses circulating over time; 18% had 2, 41% had 1 and 20% had no isolates available.

In summary, influenza herd-level prevalence in Midwestern sow farms had a seasonal pattern with higher levels in winter and spring. This is important to better allocate influenza control strategies such as vaccination in sow farms. Influenza seasonality was partially explained by outdoor air absolute humidity and temperature although other factors such as immunity and new introductions may play a role in the observed seasonality.

Read the full story at

Science Page: Prevalence comparison among different MSHMP cohorts

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.

This week, we are sharing a report from the MSHMP team regarding the differences in PRRS prevalence among various cohorts.

Key points:

  • Prevalence among cohorts does not differ.
  • Seasonal patterns can be seen in different cohorts located in different regions.

Prevalence PRRS status cohortA comparison from a prevalence standpoint between the cohort of farms belonging to the 13 systems participating at the start of the MSHMP (CS) and the cohort of farms from systems that joined the program later (CL), was performed with the objective of assessing whether the patterns between cohorts compare.

As seen in Figure 1–CS, there was a clear shift towards more use of MLV over LVI for sow herd stability purposes. The proportion of farms using LVI in the CS versus the CL is 5% and 10%, respectively. When assessing the proportion of farms in each AASV PRRS category (Holtkamp et al., 2011) both groups are comparable (Table 1). Also the temporal pattern of infection can be seen in both cohorts as described by Tousignant et al (2014).

In summary, both cohorts of farms (CS versus CL) yield similar results which continue to highlight the robustness of the program and the representativeness of the systems contributing to this program.

Science Page: Investigating the role of the environment and the lactating sow in PRRSV infections during an outbreak (Part 2)

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.

This week, we are sharing part 2 of the report on the role of the environment and the lactating sow in PRRSV outbreak. You may find part 1 of the report here.

Key Points:

  • PRRS virus can be detected in the environment of the farrowing house (surfaces and air) and on the udder skin of lactating sows. However, PRRSV detection in the environment decreases as time after an outbreak increases.
  • PRRSV was not detected in the environment after 4 months of an outbreak
  • Role of environmental PRRSV in the transmission of the disease is still unknown.

In this study, udder and surface wipes as well as particle deposition wipes were collected both at processing and at weaning, starting 2 weeks after the PRRSV outbreak.

PRRS sampling udder wipes surface wipes particle deposition

Results showed that PRRSV was detected at processing up to 14 weeks after the outbreak in surfaces and udder skin of lactating sows. At weaning, PRRSV was detected up to 17 weeks post-outbreak using udder skin wipes. The number of positive samples decreased over time and the Ct values of the positive samples increased over time indicating a decrease in infection load overtime. Detection of airborne particle deposition positive samples followed a similar pattern to those of the crate surfaces and udder wipes. Virus could be isolated and sequenced from all sample types.

Udder skin and environment may play a role in the transmission and maintenance of PRRSV in piglets in breeding herds; however further research is needed to validate this observation.


Swine Global Surveillance Project Issues First Reports

cahfs_primary_graphicThe University of Minnesota Swine Group and the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) have partnered with the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) to develop and implement a system for near real time global surveillance of swine diseases. The output of the system is the identification of hazards that are subsequently scored using a step-wise procedure of screening, to identify increments in hazards that, potentially, may represent a risk for the US.

The first version of the system is now live, with the first three reports available, including data from November 5, 2017 to January 14, 2018.

Beginning in early March the tool will be available for spontaneous reporting by stakeholders, such as producers and practitioners both overseas and in the United States. During the first year of the project, the system will be developed and beta-tested for USDA-classified tier 1 reportable foreign animal swine diseases (ASF, CSF, FMD), but in the future more diseases will be tracked.

“As we have learned in recent years, we need to pay attention to external health threats as part of our overall risk management. Keeping tabs on global trends is a prudent investment,” said Dr. Jerry Torrison, Director of the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

From the most recent report, December 18, 2017 – January 14, 2018:

The current concern continues to focus on African swine fever in Poland and surrounding countries. Infected wild boars continue to be identified in the vicinity surrounding Warsaw, and the possibility of spread of the disease to the pig intensive area of eastern Poland continues to be a concern. Countries in the region are using a combination of increased hunting of wild boar along with boar proof fencing along borders to attempt to control the spread of the disease.

Visit to access the reports, and coming soon, to use the tool to provide spontaneous reporting.

AGREETT funding creates a renaissance in agricultural programs at the University of Minnesota

In 2015, the Minnesota State Legislature created the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension, and Technology Transfer program (AGREETT). Funding was established by the Department of Agriculture to support scientists and educators, increase the next generation of agricultural innovation and enhance Minnesota’s agricultural economy.


In 2017, several AGREETT experts  were hired:

  • Matthew Aliota, Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences – Aliota is expected to arrive in February 2018 and will collaborate on interdisciplinary research connecting insect-borne disease to animal health.
  • Erin Cortus, Assistant Professor and Extension Engineer, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering – Cortus’s research interests are the measurement and estimation of farm-level gas emissions and the related impacts on animals, workers and surrounding community.
  • Diane DeWitte, Extension Educator – Swine. DeWitte provides quality assurance certifications and biosecurity education to swine producers and youth exhibitors, collaborates on swine barn environmental research, and assists with research conducted at the University’s swine farms at Waseca and Morris.
  • Andres Gomez, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Science – Gomez is engaged in studying the factors that shape the composition and function of the microbiome associated to animals and humans.
  • Jared Goplen, Extension Educator – Crops. Goplen focuses primarily in the areas of forage and small grain production and is based at the Morris Regional Extension Office.
  • Joleen Hadrich, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Applied Economics – Hadrich’s research focuses on agricultural finance and production economics with an emphasis on farm-level profitability.
  • Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, Food Safety – Hultberg’s focus is on-farm food safety education, outreach and research related to Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), with fruit and vegetable producers.
  • Yuxin Miao, Associate Professor, Department of Soil, Water and Climate – Miao’s research focuses on precision nitrogen management, especially using proximal, UAV-and satellite-based remote sensing technologies to improve crop nitrogen management in different scales of farming systems, and developing integrated precision crop management systems for high crop yield and resource use efficiencies and protection of the environment.
  • Noelle Noyes, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Department of Veterinary, Population Medicine – Noyes arrives in May 2018 and will develop practical and effective models for improving preharvest food safety from production through processing by strengthening partnerships between industry, government and the University.
  • Kim VanderWaal, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine – VanderWaal uses large data sets to better understand antibiotic resistance, food safety and pathogen movements within large agricultural production systems.
  • Megan Webb, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Department of Animal Science – Webb will develop collaborative research and Extension programs focused on sustaining productivity growth in the beef industry and engaging with producers and industry to grow this vital part of Minnesota’s economy.
  • Melissa Wilson, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate – Wilson’s research and Extension programs are in manure management and water quality.

In addition to the personnel described above, AGREETT invested $4.2 million in upgrades and improvements in infrastructure to support our research.

  • University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab
  • Image Technology for Rapid Detection of Crop Pests and Diseases
  • Forest Research Capacity – Cloquet, Minn.
  • Animal Health and Food Safety Analysis Equipment: “Food Centric Corridor
  • Rapid Agricultural Response Project
  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Research

Read more

Controlling Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections in the field

Controlling Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in the field can be challenging. After summarizing the best sample types and diagnostic methods to detect mycoplasma infections early, Dr. Maria Pieters wrote an article for pig333 recapitulating the existing options for a producer struggling with enzootic pneumonia on her farm.

No single strategy will confer total protection. A well-orchestrated combination of various methods adjusted to a single production unit or system will be needed.

Indeed, Dr. Pieters reminds us that 3 different approaches can be combined to achieve greater disease control:

overall-mycoplasma-hyopneumoniae-control-is-effectively-achieved-when-combining-various-strategies_126971.jpgNo single strategy will confer total protection from infection with M. hyopneumoniae or disease elimination. However, a well-orchestrated combination of various methods, not only directed at clinical signs, but to the root of disease spread and transmission, adjusted to the unique characteristics of a production unit or system, is necessary to reach the goal of controlling M. hyopneumoniae infections and improving overall swine production around the world.

The entire article on Controlling Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae in the field is available on the pig333 website.