From veterinarian to forensic detective: Solving a mysterious swine disease
In fall 2019, a client called into Four Star Veterinary Service clinic in Mexico, Indiana, and reported the loss of a lot
In 2005, four swine veterinarians in the eastern Corn Belt joined forces to form Four Star Veterinary Service. Their business philosophy was simple but uncompromising: “If it’s best for the pig, it’s best for the producer.”
Four Star Veterinary Service offers a wide range of services for clients involved with swine (including show pigs), cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, aquaculture and companion animals.
Four Star Veterinary Service includes 19 veterinarians working from seven clinics located in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Together, we are licensed to practice in 25 states.
In fall 2019, a client called into Four Star Veterinary Service clinic in Mexico, Indiana, and reported the loss of a lot of sows. Daniel Gascho, DVM, said he had several ideas of what could cause the sow mortalities before arriving. But once he was on site, he knew he was wrong.
A field trial evaluating iron supplementation for baby pigs found the typical 200 mg iron shot at birth is not enough, according to Brittney Scales, veterinarian for Four Star Veterinary Service in Mexico, Indiana.
Biosecurity in a hog operation usually focuses on people and practices like showering in, UV irradiating supplies and filtering incoming air. But rodents and insects can bypass all those critical control points on a hog farm.
Slaughter checks performed at a packing plant are an underutilized tool for diagnosing subclinical disease, says Brad Schmitt, DVM, Four Star Veterinary Service, Rushville, Indiana.
According to research, swine influenza A viruses have become more complicated in recent years. There is a great deal of diversity within the influenza virus.
DISCOVERIES, Issue 18: Obtaining cycle threshold (Ct) values based on processing fluids provides a practical way to identify neonatal pigs at risk for nursery mortality associated with PRRS and can help determine when vaccination is worthwhile.
The “Five Freedoms” have been the foundation for establishing sound animal welfare practices since they were developed in 1965. Now, more than 50 years later, researchers have additional tools and technologies to take that basic knowledge a step further.
DISCOVERIES, Issue 19: PRRS has been described as one of the most important swine diseases of the last half-century. An estimated 20% to 25% of herds are still aﬀected, and the syndrome remains the US swine industry’s most costly disease.
In the end, raising hogs is about producing pork, and continuous success depends on building customers’ trust, listening to expectations and meeting their needs.
Influenza A virus in swine is one of the primary respiratory pathogens challenging swine production systems in the US and around the world.
Biosecurity protocols are critical to keeping the US hog herd healthy, and one of the regular tasks is to disinfect a wide range of supplies entering the farm, but how effective are those protocols?
A romanticized view of the veterinary profession, gleaned from sources like the famous Brit, James Herriot’s novel “All Creatures Great and Small,” doesn’t always mesh with the reality.
TOOLBOX, Issue 19: An interview with
Jose Angulo, DVM,
Pain management for pigs has always been a challenge, partly because it’s difficult to measure levels of pain and partly because there are no FDA-approved drugs labeled for pain management in pigs.
Piglet processing fluids have been shown to be a practical, time-efficient and affordable diagnostic tool for PRRS, and some indications suggest that PCV2 offers promise as well.
Forecasting swine-disease outbreaks might become a lot like predicting the weather as scientists combine monitoring disease data with computer models.
US pork producers should strive to produce influenza-negative pigs if they want to see the benefits of increased productivity, reduced secondary infections and antibiotic use, reduced influenza dissemination, decreased influenza diversity and reduced risk of zoonotic infections.
The farrowing room is a demanding place — one that needs to accommodate the divergent needs of a 500+-pound sow and her 10, 15 or 20 piglets weighing anywhere from 1.5 to 3 pounds.
COVID-19’s global-altering tentacles reached the 2020 Allen D. Leman Swine Conference scheduled Sept. 19-22. This year’s conference will be held virtually.
The first case of Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus (Strep. zoo) was identified in the US pig population last fall, and it’s not an organism to be taken lightly.
Sow mortality has been on the rise in the US pork industry, reaching upwards of 15% in many sow-production systems, said Ashley Johnson, DVM, technical services veterinarian with Zoetis.
Whether the issue is an emerging disease such as porcine epidemic diarrhea or the threat of African swine fever, being prepared is key to minimizing the potential impact on the US swine herd and expediting the recovery.
Veterinarians deal with stress under the best circumstances. But in this time of difficult decisions for pork producers and those who service them due to COVID-19, maintaining mental health is even more of a concern.
For both the sow and piglet, an animal that does not perform to its potential or falls behind its counterparts will negatively impact the sow farm’s productivity and profitability.
TOOLBOX, Issue 20: An interview with Eva Jablonski, DVM, PRRS Specialist, Senior Technical Services Veterinarian, Zoetis
Clinical problems in swine due to antimicrobial-resistant infections are rare. In fact, patterns of resistance in swine have been stable for a long time.
Many sow farms have undergone M. hyo elimination within their breeding herd, which makes it critical to understand the potential transmission risk from boar studs.
Few things remain the same for long on a hog farm. By the very nature of today’s production system, pigs are continuously moving on or off a site. One thing that remains constant is Strep suis.
Effective PCV2 control relies on vaccination of healthy pigs before they become infected. This goal cannot be accomplished in unstable herds whose sows give birth to viremic pigs.
Porcine circovirus type 2 is the principal etiological agent of porcine circovirus associated disease (PCVAD), which can cost producers an estimated $3 to $4 per pig.
Preventing fomites from carrying pathogens into hog farms is a daily biosecurity priority, but how effective are typical disinfection protocols?
Streptococcus suis (Strep suis) is becoming more prevalent and more complex in US swine herds. The coccoid-shaped, Gram-positive bacterium is also a zoonotic disease, capable of transmission from pigs to humans.
When it comes to porcine reproductive and respiratory virus it’s important for the veterinarian and farm personnel to know the health status of a herd or barn.
Scientists in Germany have confirmed that pigs and chickens are not susceptible to COVID-19.
Experts say some forms of sustained stress can weaken a pig’s immune system and make it more vulnerable to disease and performance losses.
PCV3 was first reported in 2016, but appears to have been present in swine populations decades prior to that time. PCV3 strains are similar to one another but are very different from PCV2.
Renewed interest in M. hyo and its impact on herd health and performance has prompted producers and veterinarians to re-evaluate control strategies for the costly bacterial disease.
Just when US pork producers thought swine dysentery was a problem of the past, it has re-emerged for an unwelcome encore in a slightly different form.
An effective biosecurity strategy is not a stagnant process. It is continuously influenced by changes in pig-flows, disease pressures, virus evolution, emerging health issues and more.
Pre-wean mortality has increased over the last 15 years, and it’s a major concern for US pork producers and veterinarians.
PRRSV is constantly evolving, resulting in an extremely diverse virus with multiple lineages, but building a better understanding of that genetic diversity is the next step to making real progress against the disease.
Classical education emphasizes the need for industries to adopt new technologies to keep up with external demands and constantly changing economic environments.
The US pork industry is challenging under the best of circumstances, with enough variables to make even astute, savvy businesspeople cautious. However, one of the biggest components of a successful, healthy operation is human capital.
Porcine circovirus type 3 (PCV3) is “absolutely” a pathogen but merely finding the virus isn’t enough to conclude it’s the cause of disease.
The first lesson of biosecurity, according to Andrea Pitkin, DVM, health assurance veterinarian for PIC, is to learn, modify and adapt because new threats can surface at any time.
One in three pigs born on US farms fail to reach market, according to Jason Ross, PhD, a professor of animal physiology at Iowa State University and director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center.
By Daniel A. Nelson, PhD,
Senior nutritionist, pork technical services,
As African swine fever virus continues to march across the globe, the US pork sector is laser focused on keeping it from reaching the homeland.
Tail biting in pigs remains something of a mystery. What triggers a pig or pigs to bite tails? Why do some express this vice and others do not?
As piglets move from the sow farm to the growing stage, it’s important to know their porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) status.
Swine veterinarians putting in long days on the road caring for pigs should be just as cognizant of their own health and nutritional needs.
Encouraging staff to have more direct involvement with managing and handling sows can have positive impacts on herd welfare and mortality rates, say scientists.
Helping piglets make a smooth transition at weaning is always a priority, but bacterial pathogens such as Streptococcus suis and Haemophilus parasuis can make that goal particularly challenging.
Tail biting and lameness directly impact the well-being of growing pigs, which in turn impacts their productivity and the farm’s economics.