Last week I visited a sow unit that was about 10 days into a PED virus outbreak. While I was there to examine ventilation settings and GDU options, it was hard not to have a discussion with the employees about the virus outbreak. The most common question that all of the employees asked – when we start keeping pigs alive?
When these extreme outbreaks hit a production unit not it is very tough on the employees. They are hired and rewarded based on their skills at keeping pigs alive. It really bothers them when you have to say based on current information there are not a lot of good options available to save piglets born in the first 1-3 weeks of a PED outbreak. Once feedback of the virus has been done to all females in the unit it still takes 2-3 weeks for the sows to have immunity to transfer to suckling piglets. Until this immunity develops those pigs that are born have almost no chance of survival given the extreme pathogenesis of the virus and the ability of the virus to survive outside of the pig.
While the sow unit was shower-in/out, I have stepped up my biosecurity for all sites I am now visiting. I now routinely put on disposable boots at a site before my shoes touch the ground at the site. I don’t want my shoes/boots to be the transfer point for the virus to a production site. When I get back into my truck I remove the disposables before my feet enter the truck – I don’t want to end up with my truck being contaminated and a potential source of recurring infection for sites I routinely visit.
With the PED virus now firmly entrenched in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa what are you doing to reduce the risk of it being transferred to your site? Have you modified your loadout areas so truckers don’t have to enter the chute and truck by walking through your barn/office? Do you have clear biosecurity line for pig movement to prevent it being carried back into a barn by a stray pig?
What about your entry points to your facilities? If possible I’ve been encouraging all of the sites I’ve visited lately to consider installation of a bench entry. This physical barrier keeps street shoes from being the carrier of PED virus (and other possible diseases) into a facility. Do visitors to your site take precautions such as plastic boots over their street shoes when then enter your site?
The best comment I’ve heard on biosecurity was a statement by Dr Terri Specht, a veterinarian from Ohio who said – “If biosecurity doesn’t inconvenience you – you aren’t doing it right”. Are you being inconvenienced by your daily biosecurity routines?
That is exactly right about the inconvenience of biosecurity. It has to be considered a part of the job and routine. It is also why there is cheating. We need to design systems that prevent cheating. We see poultry breeders put their fences in between the buildings and the bins. This makes so much sense to prevent cheating and asking our staffs to knowingly cross lines of contamination when all we have to do is put them on scales and read them remotely. We need separate driveways and parking lots for inside employees. The dead removal is another very tough one to do without risk.