Farmers should evaluate and update biosecurity measures on hog farms this fall to avoid new outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, according to veterinarian Paul Thomas.
Thomas, of AMVC Management Services, says through improved standards of biosecurity on farms, producers can help reduce the risk of spreading disease.
Biosecurity also needs to be adjusted routinely to keep up with changes on the farm as well as when risks change.
"For example, when we first started to see PEDV, most producers thought they had good biosecurity practices in place," Thomas said. "However, what we quickly learned was that common biosecurity practices were effective for helping to prevent the threat of some diseases, but for PEDV, biosecurity practices needed to be even better."
Faced with this challenge, producers and veterinarians across the country worked together over the last two years to strengthen farm security measures, which as a result, helped prevent a more widespread outbreak.
"After you've experienced a disease outbreak, it's easy to remember to update and reinforce biosecurity practices," Thomas said. "However, if you haven't had a disease incident on your farm, herd immunity might be lacking, and a focus on biosecurity becomes more important than ever."
With the help of your farm veterinarian, consider evaluating biosecurity externally and internally to ensure good biosecurity practices are in place.
Look at all ways the virus could get on an operation. This can include:
• Transportation. Make sure trucks are clean and incoming animals are disease-free. Make sure feed and propane trucks, which may have visited another farm first, are following a biosecurity hierarchy, such as visiting sow farms before finishing farms. Give all employees the authority to reject trucks that are not clean.
• Employees. Help employees understand that biosecurity starts before the farm. It requires constant awareness. Employees should minimize travel to other farms or areas where livestock are kept. Establish clean-dirty lines so any exposure stops at the door. Empower employees to help identify risks for farm safety.
• Supplies. Have protocols for incoming supplies, such as medication, maintenance materials and feed ingredients. This might include an evaluation and disinfection procedure as well as quarantine time before bringing supplies near animals.
Internal biosecurity >>
Good internal biosecurity helps keep diseases from moving around a farm. Internal biosecurity includes practices such as separating new piglets from older animals that might not be clinically ill but could be shedding some amount of virus.
Setting up boot wash stations within the farm is important also. Consider required glove changes as well as protocols requiring employees to move from younger to older pigs.
"Producers did a great job stepping up their biosecurity before last winter," said Rick Swalla, DVM, Pork Technical Services, Zoetis. "We've seen fewer cases of PEDV this year, but there is still a risk, especially as colder weather approaches and the virus is able to live and spread easier. We need to continue to work together to keep up an emphasis on biosecurity again so we don't see a lot of PEDV outbreaks this coming year."