“Awareness and readiness is what we need to be able to effectively respond,” emphasizes executive director of SHIC Paul Sundberg. As a disease readiness example, a high morbidity and high mortality strain of pseudorabies virus (PRV) that is more pathogenic than the strain that was eradicated in the United States has emerged in China. This is the sort of disease that needs increased U.S. readiness. Therefore, it was included and prioritized on the Swine Disease Matrix.
Developed by the Center for Food Security and Public Health (CSFPH) at the College of Veterinary Medicine of Iowa State University, the fact sheets offer the information about each disease that a veterinarian and producer need to know right away in the face of an outbreak. Each fact sheet starts by listing the most immediate, needed information followed by a section with more detail and then by a full, referenced literature review. Examples of information covered include etiology, cleaning and disinfection, epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and control as well as any gaps in preparedness.
“When we have more information, we have the ability to more quickly respond to new disease,” emphasizes Sundberg. “With the help of the Center for Food Security and Public Health, we have taken diseases identified as endemic or circulating around the world and generated detailed fact sheets for use by veterinarians and pork producers.”
Immediate next steps resulting from the Swine Disease Matrix include creation of additional educational fact sheets beyond the twenty-five fact sheets already prepared as well as identification of U.S. pork industry preparedness gaps.
“Part of our mission at SHIC drives us to make tools and information regarding what could come next. The Swine Health Monitoring and Analysis Group is a working group of SHIC charged with assessing foreign, transboundary production disease risk. The outcome of their fall 2015 assessment is an updated rendition of the Swine Disease Matrix,” said Sundberg.
To create this prioritized list, a scoring system was developed to rank the diseases. Three factors were considered: 1) likelihood of entry, 2) economic effects on production, post entry, and 3) effects on domestic and international markets. An average risk score was generated, thus prioritizing the pathogens for which the United States needs to develop preparedness and readiness amongst the pork industry. SHIC also used the Swine Disease Matrix as an information input to help prioritize SHIC research and programs for 2016.
Being ready to test is critical to preparedness. Sundberg speaks of next actions: “Regarding recently identified preparedness gaps for diseases of threat, the center is responding by coordinating development of any missing diagnostics.”
At the recent January 2016 Board Meeting, Sundberg explained to the directors that the working group approached the matrix with the idea that it does not want to have redundant efforts. For example, Foot and Mouth disease research is #1 on the Swine Disease Matrix, but is already being handled with the resources and programs of the National Pork Board and a variety of federal initiatives. Sundberg clarifies, “We approached the Swine Disease Matrix with the idea that we are trying to identify and be ready for the next PED. We don’t want to do things that others are already doing.”