Pork industry loses swine health, food safety expert Dr James Mckean

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Dr. James McKean, longtime Iowa State University Swine Extension veterinarian and porcine disease and food safety researcher, has died.

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“Swine veterinary medicine and the pork industry have lost a major piece of the foundation we currently stand on,” said Dr. Pat Halbur, professor and chair of the Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine Department at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our profession and industry have built upon and benefited tremendously from many of the things Dr. McKean has done to improve the health and welfare of pigs, the profitability of the pork industry and the safety and quality of pork.”

McKean was known internationally for his efforts to develop tools and programs for disease surveillance. He was perhaps best known for his leadership in the eradication of Pseudorabies virus from the U.S. pork industry in 2004 and ongoing efforts to initiate an eradication program for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.

McKean was recently well into the process of designing strategies for eradicating porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has plagued the pork industry since it surfaced in the United States in May 2013.

He also was widely known for his leadership in helping establish and continuously improving the Pork Quality Assurance programs and for his collaboration in research that has advanced understanding of the opportunities to impact pork safety between the time pigs leave the farm and when they arrive at the packing plant.

McKean was highly involved in many pork industry organizations, including the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board, National Institute for Animal Agriculture and the US Animal Health Association.

McKean has been recognized with many awards including the Honorary Iowa Master Pork Producer award from the IPPA, the Extension Veterinarian of the Year from the Association of Extension Veterinarians, the Howard Dunne Memorial Award from the AASV, the Master in Pork Production award from the National Hog Farmer Magazine, and in 2012 he received the President’s Service Award from the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.

McKean was born in New York City and grew up in central Illinois. He received his veterinary degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in veterinary pathology from Michigan State University, and the Juris Doctor degree from Drake University.


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