Increased movement of pigs and people from country to country – as well as within the United States – has increased the risks of a transmissible disease entering your farm and wreaking havoc, warns veterinarian Harry Snelson, Schering-Plough Animal Health's technical services manager.

"In the future," he says, "the risk is likely to become much greater with the great upswing in the number of pigs, people and products coming from other countries. Also, a lot more of all three are moving around once they're in this country."

New infectious agents that affect swine are emerging in addition to the three main foreign animal diseases: foot and mouth disease, classical swine fever (also known as hog cholera) and african swine fever.

To protect your herd, Snelson recommends that you:

  • Follow a thorough biosecurity program.
  • Isolate all incoming animals for at least 21 days before introducing them into your herd. Observe them closely and regularly during that time.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect your facilities and equipment between pig groups. Always clean and disinfect vehicles used for moving animals as well.
  • Work closely with your veterinarian on a disease-prevention-and-control program.
  • Control traffic of incoming people, products and vehicles that could bring in a disease.
  • Because many foreign-animal diseases can be transmitted by pork products such as processed ham, prevent consumption of any pork product – domestic or imported – in or near your swine facilities.
  • Maintain programs to control birds and rodents.
  • If you feed any food scraps or garbage, be sure it is cooked thoroughly.
  • If you host international visitors, develop a list of additional precautions with your veterinarian or an extension veterinary specialist.
  • Should you observe any suspicious disease symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. He or she can send samples to a diagnostic lab. (Any case of suspicious disease is to be reported to a state or federal veterinarian.) production