In this file:
· Pennsylvania Vet Recalls Working Swine Fever’s Front Line
… To find the source of the outbreak, the Russian investigators did something that might not happen in the U.S. — they gave the farm workers a lie detector test… the polygraph helped crack the case...
· Farmers Should Fear Globetrotters With Trotters
… While African swine fever has never been reported in America or Oceania, there’s a good chance it will eventually cross our border, most likely via uneducated travelers…
· USDA strengthens partnerships and protections to keep African swine fever out of the country
… enhanced activities to intensify multi-agency efforts toward the prevention of ASF’s entry into the United States…
Pennsylvania Vet Recalls Working Swine Fever’s Front Line
Philip Gruber, Lancaster Farming (PA)
Mar 8, 2019
MANHEIM, Pa. — Few Americans have ever encountered African swine fever.
And from what swine veterinarian Jon Van Blarcom has seen of the disease, he hopes it stays that way.
“It’s slow to move, but once it’s in your herd, in my experience, all your pigs die,” said Van Blarcom, a veterinarian at Four Star Veterinary Service in Elizabethtown.
The disease, which doesn’t affect humans, has been roaring through China for the past six months. A U.S. outbreak would likely cost the pork industry billions of dollars.
Van Blarcom, who frequently does veterinary work abroad, has responded to two African swine fever outbreaks at large pig complexes in Russia.
He spoke about his experiences during the Keystone Pork Expo on Feb. 20 at Spooky Nook Sports.
Van Blarcom saw his first swine fever outbreak in December 2014 at a massive multiplier-finisher farm south of Moscow.
The sick pigs had a high fever, bruises all over their body and hemorrhages. Necropsies found the pigs had huge, brittle spleens.
“These pigs are very, very sick. None of us have seen anything like this at home,” Van Blarcom said.
The government immediately instituted a quarantine zone with a 5-kilometer radius around the building.
Pigs could not be moved in or out of the zone, and human and vehicle traffic was restricted.
Then came the tough part — euthanizing and destroying all 35,000 pigs at the complex.
The carcasses were burned and buried in large trenches. A gruesome sight.
The emptied complex was thoroughly cleaned.
“You name it, it was washed and then washed again and then probably washed again,” Van Blarcom said.
The farm was idled for a year and lost $30 million.
Investigators determined that the virus had probably arrived via the feed mill.
African swine fever spreads through contact with other pigs, or through infected pig products such as meat and bone meal.
The farm had a policy against feeding pork products, but as it turned out, the feed mill that served the farm also mixed poultry diets that didn’t have that restriction, Van Blarcom said.
The mill had recently received a shipment of meat and bone meal from Belarus, which at the time was a hot spot of African swine fever.
Van Blarcom saw his second outbreak two years later, in September 2016, at a 6,000-head sow farm.
At first there were just two dead gilts in one pen, with no clinical signs on the rest of the farm. As a precaution, the whole site was quarantined.
The on-site vet suspected a disease that had been troubling the complex for a while, but he decided to test for African swine fever too.
The farm had positive tests two days later, including from a gilt that had recently tested negative.
The affected gilts had been taken to the site nine days earlier, and had tested negative for swine fever before and after shipping.
The farm ended up losing 5,800 sows and 10,000 piglets, but extensive biosecurity procedures prevented what could have been a $100 million disaster, Van Blarcom said.
The complex was given some forgiveness on the 5-kilometer kill zone because it had strong biosecurity protocols in place.
Several other pig barns within that radius remained negative for the virus, Van Blarcom said.
To find the source of the outbreak, the Russian investigators did something that might not happen in the U.S. — they gave the farm workers a lie detector test.
What’s more, the polygraph helped crack the case...
Farmers Should Fear Globetrotters With Trotters
Stephen Seeber, Lancaster Farming (PA)
Mar 9, 2019
International travel is on the rise, which might surprise some given the weight of fearmongering in this age of terrorism.
More than 1.5 billion people roamed outside their home countries in 2017, according to The World Bank, a notable uptick from the 687 million who did so with pre-9/11 peace of mind 20 years earlier.
The numbers have been escalating ever since, except for a one-year dip in 2009 when travel budgets were depleted by an $8 trillion housing bubble burst and subsequent recession. But the economy has been growing ever since, and so has our inherent desire to explore.
International tourism generated $245 billion, with an $84 billion trade surplus, for the United States in 2016, according to the Department of Commerce, which projects international travel to the U.S. to grow by 2.7 percent annually through 2022.
As we debate border security and the threat of illegal immigration, the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration points out that “the U.S. leads the world in international travel and tourism exports and ranks second in terms of total visitation.”
That’s great news if you’re one of the 18 million Americans employed by the tourism industry, directly or indirectly. But it’s an unnerving forecast if you’re Jon Van Blarcom.
The globetrotting Pennsylvania veterinarian was at the Keystone Pork Expo in Manheim last month, sharing his gruesome experience with African swine fever while working in Russia. The memory of 35,000 euthanized pigs — burned and buried in trenches — is indelible.
This highly contagious viral disease doesn’t affect humans, but it is fatal to wild and domestic pigs, has no vaccine and is traveling quickly in Africa, Europe and Asia. There has been a significant increase in outbreaks since 2016, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. It can be spread by live or dead pigs and pork products. Transmission can even occur through contaminated feed and on shoes, clothes and vehicles.
In just two years, this pork plague has wiped out nearly 820,000 animals.
So, why is Van Blarcom wary of tourism trends?
While African swine fever has never been reported in America or Oceania, there’s a good chance it will eventually cross our border, most likely via uneducated travelers.
The danger from humans accidentally spreading this devastating disease is great, Van Blarcom says.
All it would take is one tourist to innocently bring home a sausage from his trip to Poland or some pickled pig trotters from China.
One bad banger could be catastrophic for the U.S. pork industry, costing farmers $8 billion in lost revenue in the first year, an Iowa State University study predicts.
In October, the USDA celebrated the heroism of Beagle Brigade agent Hardy, a trained detector dog that sniffed out a roasted pig’s head in an Ecuadorean traveler’s suitcase before it entered the U.S. through the world’s busiest international airport in Atlanta. That visitor, who was probably unaware of the risk and the restriction, is just one of more than 100 million people who fly in and out of Atlanta every year, and Atlanta is just one of 105 international airports in the U.S. And then you have shipping ports of entry and land access points.
Hardy can’t do it all alone...
USDA strengthens partnerships and protections to keep African swine fever out of the country
Newton County Times (AR)
Mar 9, 2019
WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced additional steps to keep African swine fever (ASF) from entering the United States, even as the disease spreads internationally. These steps strengthen the protections announced last fall after the deadly swine disease reached China. The goal remains to protect our nation’s swine industry from this disease. ASF does not affect people, nor is it a food safety issue.
In coordination with the pork industry, USDA’s Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach, has stated the following enhanced activities to intensify multi-agency efforts toward the prevention of ASF’s entry into the United States:
Work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to train and add 60 additional beagle teams for a total of 179 teams working at key U.S. commercial, sea, and air ports;
Coordinate with CBP on the further expansion of arrival screenings at key U.S. commercial sea and air ports – including checking cargo for illegal pork/pork products and ensuring travelers who pose an ASF risk receive secondary agricultural inspection;
Increase inspections and enforcement of garbage feeding facilities to ensure fed garbage is cooked properly to prevent potential disease spread;
Heighten producer awareness and encourage self-evaluations of on-farm biosecurity procedures;
Work to develop accurate and reliable testing procedures to screen for the virus in grains, feeds and additives, and swine oral fluid samples;
Work closely with officials in Canada and Mexico on a North American coordinated approach to ASF defense, response, and trade maintenance;
And continue high level coordination with the U.S. pork industry leadership to assure unified efforts to combat ASF introduction.
“We understand the grave concerns about the ASF situation overseas,” said Ibach...