Pork producers: Utilize oral fluid collection for diagnostic work

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The health status of the swine herd should be one of the top priorities for people in the pork industry. One method for improving the animal health status on swine farms is to start a disease surveillance program, including routine disease testing of the herd. Michigan State University Extension educators recommend developing a herd health plan for your swine herds, with one of the core components in your health plan being a method to complete disease surveillance.

Producers looking for methods to easily increase the disease surveillance of their herds now have a lower cost option by collecting oral fluids for diagnostic testing. Oral fluids collection is done by the producer or farm employee and consists of simply hanging cotton ropes in the pen with the pigs. The pigs will explore the rope and chew on it, making it wet with saliva.

This method also allows the producers to submit pooled samples from their herd, as numerous pigs will chew on the rope.

Once the rope has been significantly chewed it can be removed and the saliva squeezed out of it and collected into a test tube or sterile container. Once all of the samples have been collected they can be shipped to the diagnostic lab for testing purposes. “Basic steps for oral fluid collection on swine farms” contains more details on collecting oral fluids.

Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory can process these types of samples. Currently they are able to complete various different tests including:

PCR (polymerase chain reaction):

  • PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome)
  • SIV (swine influenza virus A)
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • PCV2 (porcine circovirus type 2)

ELISA ( X3 enxyme-linked immunosorbent assay):

  • PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome)

Test results are received by the producer or submitting veterinarian in a timeframe similar to testing serum samples.

The the practice of oral fluid collection as a diagnostic tool is one that producers will be able to implement on their farms to get prompt accurate results for their disease surveillance program. Having current knowledge of the health status of your swine herd will help you be better prepared when an outbreak occurs and assist you in tracing back the source of the infection. Maintaining a high health status will also allow your herd to meet and continue the production goals that you have in place for your facilities.

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