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Research suggests soy imports can carry animal disease

Photo courtesy of David Geiger

A well-known carrier of disease is animals. Today, we discuss scientific work being done to identify other carriers, posing threat to the United States livestock industry.

AUDIO: Dr. Scott Dee, Pipestone Veterinary Services (Part 1)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – National Veterinary Services Laboratory, in 2013, confirmed traces of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) in the United States swine herd. The viruses origin was deemed “unknown.” However, research suggests it was transmitted through animal feed.

“Our veterinary group  started asking questions about how this virus could have entered the country because before 2013, it had never been in the United States,” director of Pipestone Applied Research at Pipestone Veterinary Services Dr. Scott Dee said. “We had some feed observations that feed may be delivering the virus from farm-to-farm. We did the workup to validate that at the farm level, but then wanted to see what about (at) the international level. Could it by chance move from China to the United States, for example, through contaminated feed?”

Pipestone Veterinary Services then created a model, at South Dakota State University, to test the virus’ ability to survive overseas travel. Dee calls this phase of the study a key component, as United States producers oftentimes feed imported soybean meal and dried distillers grains (DDGs) to livestock. He names several ingredients testing positive for PEDV, as well as other viruses, following international transport.

“Those would be what I  would call conventional soybean meal, which is high protein, low fat, lysine, vitamin D and choline. And as we repeated the study over multiple viruses, we started seeing the same thing, which was really intriguing to me. Those ingredients seem to be very supportive of multiple viruses.”

Dee says foreign animal diseases, such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease, also remained stable throughout their travels. He fears these results cause reason for concern.

“If diseases like Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever and Pseudorabies Virus would get into the U.S., it would cripple our exports, which is about 30% of our production. This is a very serious problem. Now that we’ve identified this potential vehicle, especially at the laboratory level, we wanted to explore it across other viruses,” Dee said.