Recommendations published to help tackle exotic disease

A series of recommendations has been produced to strengthen the country’s readiness to tackle new and emerging diseases.

The risk to the pig industry from exotic diseases is at its highest level in many years and the Pig Health and Welfare Council Surveillance Subgroup Exotic and Emerging Diseases Roundtable in April 2014 developed the recommendations to strengthen the UK pig industry’s defences against the introduction of new and notifiable diseases. The aim was to improve preparedness to identify quickly, contain and eliminate any new disease agents introduced.

The threats to our industry come from African swine fever spreading west out of Russia and porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) spreading with devastating speed through North America and Asia. The threat of foot and mouth disease is also ever present.

Outbreaks of notifiable disease would do serious harm to the industry and lead to closure of export markets that could take significant time to reopen.

New non-notifiable diseases could spread rapidly and become endemic with long-term effects on production efficiency and welfare as previously seen with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) and postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS).  

Currently there’s no effective vaccine for PEDv and limited control options – very like the situation that existed after the introduction of PRRS/blue ear and PMWS.

BPEX vet Derek Armstrong, who has headed the development of the recommendations, said some of them had already been taken up, such as the NPA working with breeding companies to update import protocols for PED. Others, including a contingency plan for PED, are being developed.

“It’s vital we’re in a position to react as rapidly as possible as our export markets are now worth about £350 million a year and if these were closed due to disease it would have a devastating effect,” Mr Armstrong said.

The full list of recommendations can be found on the BPEX website at: www.bpex.org.uk/R-and-D/Pig-Health/diseases.aspx

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