AASV members' forum

AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee update

Your AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee is working to keep you informed and educated on the many foreign animal diseases that threaten the US pork industry today. In this column, I will report to you a few of the projects of this committee in the past year and inform you of the future plans the Committee is implementing or considering. Your input on the future endeavors planned for this committee is invited and welcomed. The best way to offer your input is to contact a member of the AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee, which includes

  • Dr Bill Mengeling
  • Dr Neil Becker
  • Dr Pat Halbur
  • Dr Robert Glock
  • Dr Bill Brown
  • Dr David Pyburn
  • Dr Rika Jolie
  • Dr Steve Henry
  • Dr Warren Wilson
  • Dr Angela Baysinger
  • Dr Harry Snelson
  • Dr Christa Irwin
  • Dr Paul Armbrecht
  • Dr Mike Senn
  • Dr Sabrina Swenson
  • Dr Thomas McKenna

One of the projects of this committee for the past 2 years has been the securing of slots and candidates for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician (FADD) Training. At the request of the pork industry and the AASV, training slots were made available for pork industry veterinarians to participate in this intensive 2-week training course on recognizing and diagnosing foreign animal diseases, with particular emphasis on foreign animal diseases of swine. In January of 2000, five pork industry veterinarians were able to participate. In March of 2001, Dr Mike Senn took advantage of this training. Below is what Dr Senn has to say about his experiences with FADD training.

"Incredible! Intense! Exciting! Enlightening! These are all words that describe my 2-week experience at the USDA FADD training course at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Plum Island, New York. The 32 participants in my class represented a diverse cross-section of veterinary medicine with the following demographics: 47% military-military reserve, 28% USDA, 19% state government, 3% foreign, and 3% private practice-industry. It was incredible to see both the severity of diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and the relative lack of differentiable gross lesions with diseases such as classical swine fever. The training consisted of an intense review of dozens of diseases in all species of animals in both a lecture setting and a hands-on laboratory setting. The course was exciting from the aspect of learning first hand about "those other diseases that you will likely never see" that were rapidly passed over in veterinary school. The timing of the course also made it more exciting and realistic for the participants, with the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom only weeks old and rapidly spreading during our time at Plum Island. I was enlightened to the fact that many of the participants were relatively uninformed about new or "emerging" diseases that affect our industry and the scope and degree of animal movement within the US pork industry. Two areas of FAD preparedness-response that I see needing attention are communications and an understanding of the current structure of the US pork industry, so that informed decisions can be made quickly. As an organized group of veterinarians, we must become more proactive. We must lobby for more positions in the FADD training courses, train ourselves through courses such as the FAD pre-convention workshop scheduled for the 2002 AASV Annual Meeting in Kansas City, and participate at the local, state, and federal level in establishing realistic, adaptable contingency plans.

The AASV has been able to secure two slots for the 2002 training course that will take place at Plum Island, NY, during the first 2 weeks of April. Materials and further information on how to apply for these slots will be forthcoming. The pork industry veterinarians who attend this training will be very valuable resources should a foreign animal disease outbreak occur in the United States. The attendees must indicate a willingness to be called upon in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the United States, as the USDA will look to private practitioners to assist with combating and eradicating the disease."

The Foreign Animal Disease Committee is working in other ways to help educate the AASV membership on these diseases. In August 2001, the Committee arranged to have a new USDA educational CD ROM entitled "Recognition of Classical Swine Fever and African Swine Fever" sent to the entire membership. This CD ROM involved a role-playing format where you, as the FADD, make decisions about conducting an on-farm foreign animal disease investigation. This process educates veterinarians on the signs and appearance of these two foreign animal diseases.

The Committee will present a workshop on foreign animal disease prevention, recognition, and response at the AASV 2002 Annual Meeting on Sunday, March 3. This workshop will include speakers addressing the prevention and response system we currently employ in the United States and speakers who have had first hand experience with the response to the FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom. More information on this workshop will be delivered to the membership with the AASV annual meeting materials.

The Committee is also working on getting foreign animal disease photos and information up on the AASV website. The USDA is currently revising the "Illustrated Manual for the Recognition and Diagnosis of Certain Animal Diseases". Once this revision is completed, the Committee will pursue getting this information on the AASV web site.

The Committee is considering development of a scientific literature review on the disinfectants available to the pork industry. This review would detail the science available to show which disinfectants are most effective for individual viruses and bacteria. This would include etiologic agents of both domestic and foreign animal diseases and would place emphasis on the performance of the disinfectants in the presence of organic material, which better reflects "real world" situations. If you have comments or advice on the pursuit of this information, please contact one of the listed AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee members.

In addition to the above educational efforts, the Committee is also attempting to give the AASV membership further say in how foreign animal disease issues are addressed in the United States. Dr Bill Mengeling has been nominated by the AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee for membership on the USDA Secretary of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Foreign Animal and Poultry Diseases. The purpose of the Advisory Committee is to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on means to prevent, suppress, control, or eradicate foreign animal diseases in the United States. The duties of the Advisory Committee involve advising and counseling USDA on

  • plans and recommendations for regulatory actions in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak;
  • problems associated with control and (or) eradication measures to cope with an outbreak of a foreign animal disease;
  • changing practices in the production and marketing of livestock and recent developments in research and regulatory veterinary medicine;
  • developing effective measures for informing livestock producers concerning the handling and treatment of unusual or suspicious animal disease problems; and
  • regulations pertaining to imports of animals and animal products.

The AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee is working to educate the AASV membership on foreign animal diseases and is also striving to bring the views and needs of the AASV membership before those responsible for preparedness and protection from foreign animal diseases. If you have any questions or suggestions for the AASV Foreign Animal Disease Committee, please contact any of the Committee members.