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Viral pathogens can move from country to country through feed

Posted by Teresa Steckler - Disease

I read this on Meatingplace; it is an intriguing concept.
By Michael Fielding on 10/31/2016
Foreign animal diseases can enter the United States via feed imports from high-risk countries, according to new research from the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC).

Until recently, the industry wasn't sure whether pathogens moved through feed imports from high-risk regions, largely because little research had been conducted.

But the research, conducted by Scott Dee at the Pipestone Applied Research, Pipestone Veterinary Services, South Dakota State University (SDSU) and Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) confirms suspicions.

"Via simulation, we've shown for the first time that viral pathogens can move from country to country through feed imports from countries of high risk to countries without the disease," Dee said in a news release.

Feed biosecurity and transboundary risk have been on the radar for several years: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) used to be exotic to the United States, but in May of 2013, PED spread rapidly through the United States pork industry, causing acute diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, and nearly 100 percent mortality of suckling piglets younger than 10 days of age in naïve farms.

"When it started, we didn't even have a good way to test for PED," explained Paul Sundberg executive director of SHIC.

The first PED strain was 99.8 percent similar to a strain found in China, Dee said. "PED likely came to us in the feed from China. I am quite convinced of that," he said.Of great concern is that China and other countries have Foot and Mouth, Hog cholera, Pseudorabies, and extremely virulent strains of Porcine Respiratory Reproductive Syndrome (PRRS). The US pork industry needed to know if these other diseases could make it across the ocean in feed.

"Why did we do this research? It's the next frontier, but also, we have a vested interest in knowing whether feed ingredients from overseas are a potential way foreign animal disease can enter the U.S. animal food supply chain," Dee added. "The data are still coming in. But we are already looking at possible mitigants. There are many factors we need to understand. … For years, the veterinary community never considered feed a biosecurity risk, but now we know it is a risk."

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