Biosecurity Remains Number One Defence Against Disease

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Farmscape for April 3, 2020

Full Interview 15:25 Listen

A Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine suggests, in an evolving animal health environment, biosecurity remains the number one defence against swine disease. In an effort to improve the health and productivity of food producing animals while reducing the use of antibiotics scientists have stepped up their focus on the factors that impact an animal’s resilience in the face of disease challenges. Dr. John Harding, a Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says diseases have changed over the years.

Clip-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We have a very complex animal health intensive livestock sector now involving multiple sites, large airspaces, potentially transportation of pigs for great distances. We also have emergence of diseases or new viruses, new pathogens, emergence of antimicrobial resistance, potential zoonotic diseases, those that transmit to humans so there’s a lot of change that’s happened over the years. Evolution is a natural phenomenon that all pathogens, viruses, bacteria alike will go through, some at different rates. In the hog sector it’s really the RNA viruses that are most challenging. Those include PRRS virus, Rotavirus and Influenza viruses that we’re quite concerned about today and have been very topical. The factors that really influence evolution are really dependant on both the pathogen as well as the situation.
There are certain types of pathogens that evolve faster than others and there are certain management systems and barn environments where they evolve faster as well so I think there is both the pathogen as well as the producer in mind when it comes down to the factors influencing evolution.

Dr. Harding acknowledges biosecurity remains the number one defence against disease. For instance, he says, internationally keeping African Swine Fever out of the country is clearly an industry priority while at the regional level or the farm level it could be keeping PED out of certain areas of the country or keeping PRRS out of an individual herd.

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