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Ways to prevent African Swine Fever from entering U.S. herd

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United States officials are working to ensure a foreign animal disease, such as the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus, remains outside our nation’s borders. Below, we discuss ways farmers can help prevent the virus from entering their herd.

Dave Phyburn serves as senior vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board. Phyburn says the first step in preventing a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak is enhancing biosecurity measures.

“Take a look at where the potential plugs are in biosecurity. Whether it’s in transporting animals, transporting feed, people coming onto your farm or equipment coming onto your farm. With a close eye, take a look at how you do that,” Phyburn said. “Ask your veterinarian to help you. Then determine how you can better do that, so you’re not bringing any viruses to your farm.”

Phyburn adds, “The number one thing producers can do right now is assume these viruses are out there and trying to get into their farm.”

The National Pork Board (NPB) brings light to a new practice, designed to reduce disease transmission risk, which is knowing how long certain feed ingredients have been securely stored before allowing their use.

Research, conducted by Pipestone Veterinary Services, suggests live viruses can withstand transoceanic transport. Feed ingredients, such as conventional soybean meal, lysine and Vitamin D, tested positive for being a carrier of certain viruses.

Pipestone Veterinary Services closely studied the life of a virus in substrates, or feed components. Scientists measured viability by the half-life, the amount of time it takes one-half of the virus to become non-viable. Their research indicates the African Swine Fever virus remains 50-percent viable after six-days. Feed contaminated by this virus would need to be held for several days before being fed to livestock.

“When you do half-life work, you can’t get to absolute zero, as far as viruses left viable in the feed component. What you can do is, you can go out 13 half lives. If you go out 13 half lives, 99.9% of your virus load is now non-viable,” Phyburn said. “We took that six-day life (and) ran it out to 13 half lives. Thirteen times six is 78, that gets us to a 78-day hold. Looking at this research, that would say a 78-day hold would result in 99.9% of the virus gone.”

Phyburn encourages farmers to research “holding times” for feed to help reduce the risk of potentially exposing livestock to a foreign animal disease. He recommends you talk to your feed supplier first and offers additional options/resources.

“We came out here a couple weeks ago with our decision tree matrix and risk assessment document on feed ingredients. What this does is guide producers through a look at where their feed come from and if their feed produced in a biosecure manner. It gives the producers the questions they should be asking their feed suppliers,” Phyburn said.”

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