Wed, 04 Oct 2017
ANALYSIS - Scott Dee, research director at Pipestone Veterinary Services, discussed indicators a pig producer should look for that are a red flag that it's time to call their veterinarian.
"There are three levels - one is the most obvious - sick pigs, dead pigs," Dee said. "Number two would be production indicators from records that performance isn't where it should be. Number three may be results from routine surveillance, whatever the monitoring program for health is on the farm. If you see issues in either one of those or two or three, you better call the vet."
Dee experienced this first-had during the onset of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in January of 2014, when several farms had all become infected within a few days. The link between the farms was having received feed at a specific time to a specific bin to a specific population of pigs. The pigs who ate that feed delivered to that specific bin were the first clinically infected animals.
Discovering the link that feed could potentially be a transmission vehicle became an "Aha" moment, and the next question was how best to sample and test it.
"We actually went into the bins with big paint rollers and collected the feed material from inside bins and looked for whether the virus was there. It was, and we also fed it to pigs experimentally to prove they could become infected," said Dee. "We proved for the first time that PED virus could be transmitted through feed."
The PED-infected farms all had a feed outage and needed feed delivery. The pigs who consumed that feed became infected first, and they became the index cases.
"It was our first point of thinking maybe feed could be a vehicle, and we better figure out a way somehow to sample and test that bin and feed material to see whether it could be proof that the virus was present or not," he said.
Communication and diagnostics became critical. Dee said veterinarians sat down and shared the cases they were seeing and searched for commonalities. That communication helped lead the team to a common link they were able to investigate, test and begin to find answers.
"The clinical epidemiology - seeing the cases and how they might be related with feed delivery being the one common denominator," Dee said.