The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) recently released a prioritized list of pathogens of threat on a Swine Disease Matrix (view pdf here: SHIC will use the Swine Disease Matrix to prioritize 2016 actions and research. Immediate next steps include creation of additional educational fact sheets beyond the 25 fact sheets already prepared as well as identification of US pork industry preparedness gaps. The center understands that being ready to test is critical to preparedness. First and foremost, SHIC is responding to identified preparedness gaps by coordinating development of any missing diagnostic capabilities. Executive director Paul Sundberg explained at the recent Minnesota Pork Congress and Iowa Pork Congress that awareness and readiness are what US swine veterinarians and producers need for effective emerging disease response. [Source: SHIC, 2/1016]

As a disease readiness example, a high morbidity and high mortality strain of pseudorabies virus (PRV) that is more pathogenic than the strain that was eradicated in the U.S. has emerged in China. This is the sort of disease that needs increased US readiness. Therefore, it was included and prioritized on the Swine Disease Matrix.

The matrix was completed by the Swine Health Monitoring and Analysis Working Group. They are charged with assessing foreign, transboundary production disease risk. The working group charge as well as a pdf with group team members are described at this location: The Swine Disease Matrix is one of many outcomes of this working group’s 2015 efforts and accomplishments. The matrix falls under the SHIC mission regarding development of tools and information.

To create this prioritized list, a scoring system was developed to rank the diseases. Three factors were considered: 1) likelihood of entry 2) production economic effects post entry 3) effects on domestic and international markets. An average risk score was generated, thus prioritizing the pathogens for which the US needs to develop preparedness and readiness amongst the pork industry. SHIC also used the Swine Disease Matrix as an information input to help prioritize SHIC research and programs for 2016.

SHIC developed a policy of including classically recognized Foreign Animal Diseases in the Matrix to communicate the importance of research, information, and preparation. However, some obvious diseases are not being addressed by SHIC. At the recent January 2016 Board Meeting, Sundberg explained to the directors that the working group approached the matrix with the idea that they don’t want to have redundant efforts. For example, Foot and Mouth disease research is #1 on the Swine Disease Matrix, but is already being handled with the resources and programs of the National Pork Board and a variety of federal initiatives. He emphasized that SHIC is working to be ready for the next PED, the next newly introduced or emerging swine production disease.

The mission of the Swine Health Information Center is to protect and enhance the health of the United States swine herd through coordinated global disease monitoring, targeted research investments that minimize the impact of future disease threats, and analysis of swine health data. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Sundberg at