Dr. Joe Connor, a veterinarian with the Carthage Veterinary Clinic in Carthage, Ill., feels the pork industry needs a broad-discipline team of experts working together with business and government to ensure there isn’t another major disease outbreak like the one encountered with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).

He says, “This committee needs to work in concert under a coordinator to allow focus of effort and continual progress toward a successful outcome.

Dr. Paul Sundberg, director of the newly established Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) agrees a collaborative effort is necessary. He says, “We can’t expect USDA alone to respond to emerging diseases; the industry needs to take more responsibility for non-regulatory diseases.

The SHIC has three big goals, Sundberg explains in a Pork Checkoff article. It will monitor foreign and endemic disease risks and vulnerabilities. In addition, it will gather and coordinate swine disease risk information from a variety of private, company, and government resources and will inform producers of emerging swine disease risks, helping them be better prepared in the face of a disease outbreak. The center also will focus on research resources.

“Second, the center will fund and manage research needed to improve diagnostic capabilities to detect emerging production diseases,” Sundberg says. “The research will help fill diagnostic and information gaps identified by global monitoring. And, as diseases change and priorities change, the center will ensure the right focus on the highest-risk diseases.

“Third, using new technology without the need to capture producer information into a separate database, the center will support epidemiological analysis of diseases that will help improve swine health on the farm. This also will give producers the information they need to help make decisions on their farms that will affect biosecurity and biocontainment.

“As the center progresses, it can provide support for the Secure Pork Supply plan to enable producers to provide the health assurances needed for pig movement in the face of some diseases,” Sundberg says. “And it can give the industry a way to manage national swine health information to support international trade of U.S. pork products.”

“Let’s open our eyes and think about what model we’ll need in the future to protect our industry,” says Connor. “The U.S. swine industry is the most cost-competitive in the world; that’s why we need to continue to bio-exclude diseases within our pig population.”