Advocacy in action
Put a PIN on it!

In support of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Animal Disease Traceability program, over 95% of USDA-estimated swine premises are registered. The USDA assigns registered premises a unique seven-character alphanumeric identifier known as a Premises Identification Number or PIN. Swine producers support using the PIN to identify their farms on official documents such as bills of lading, certificates of veterinary inspection, and diagnostic submission forms. Veterinarians need to start using these numbers when submitting diagnostic samples or certifying pig movements.

If we’ve learned anything from our experience with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), it’s the value of accurate and complete diagnostic information. Since PEDV is a non-regulatory, non-reportable disease, there is no “official” mechanism for tracking the movement of the virus. Our only indication of disease presence and distribution is the diagnostic laboratory submission. Failure to include a unique site identifier such as the PIN on the submission form, or submitting a form with an incomplete signalment (history, animal age, stage of production, clinical signs, etc) makes it impossible to provide an accurate assessment of the disease impact, distribution, rate or method of spread, or prevalence. These are all critical bits of information necessary to conduct any epidemiological analysis of the disease outbreak.

The National Pork Board makes it easy to verify and use the PIN on official forms and diagnostic samples. Their Web site provides a means by which a producer or veterinarian can enter a PIN or group of PINs to validate the address and print out barcode labels that can then be affixed to a form or sample containers. Utilizing the pre-printed barcodes reduces the risk of transposing characters when trying to record the PIN code by hand. Although most veterinary diagnostic laboratories now have barcode readers, the barcode label contains the barcode, the PIN code, and a site descriptor so a barcode reader is not required to read the label. Visit and follow the steps to utilize this service.

Put a PIN on it!Providing a unique site identifier allows the diagnostic laboratory to differentiate samples collected from a new site versus those representing a repeat or follow-up sample from a previously reported infection. In addition, with producer permission, it allows state and federal animal health officials to map disease outbreaks in order to provide that information to industry stakeholders to facilitate disease tracking and control measures. Because of the lack of PIN information on diagnostic forms associated with PEDV submissions, the information we publish about the disease is highly suspect, rendering the data useless for any type of epidemiologic analysis. It is, at best, an index of disease-reporting trends over time.

Access to accurate premises information is even more critical when we are faced with a trade-limiting or zoonotic disease. Understanding where the infected premises are located is critical if the industry wants to maintain business continuity or establish disease-negative compartments. Now that producers have recognized the importance of sharing premises identification information, it is incumbent on veterinarians to ensure that we get in the habit of providing accurate and complete information on diagnostic-sample submission forms. So encourage your clients to let you include the PIN on diagnostic submissions, verify the PIN, print off the labels, and then make sure you “Put a PIN on it!”