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BOAH prepping responses for possible swine, bird pathogens


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — At the year’s first quarterly Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) meeting Jan. 8, the board reviewed a report on 2018 insights in animal health, considered a new rule and heard program progress reports for various species of livestock.

Last year, more than 4.9 million pigs were imported to Indiana, according to BOAH’s highlights. In terms of inventory, the state ranks fifth in the country. State Veterinarian Dr. Brett Marsh said BOAH is continuing efforts to prepare the state for a potential outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), a highly transmissible disease which is not a threat to human health.

Last year, ASF was found in China’s domestic swine population, and in November, an ASF-positive wild hog was detected in China. BOAH is currently involved in planning for a national ASF exercise.

“On-site meetings with swine production systems have been conducted and more are planned in early 2019,” Marsh said. “Additionally, multiple swine industry stakeholders, including packing plants, renderers, feed companies and veterinarians, will continue to be engaged in these conversations.”

He added a National Swine Disease Council has formed with the mission of providing recommendations to animal health officials, industry and stakeholders for addressing swine diseases that threaten the U.S. pork industry.

“I am honored to serve as one of two state veterinarians on the council,” he noted. “The goal is to establish recommendations that will gain acceptance across the pork industry to thereby standardize, to the point possible, the response to a disease threat.”

BOAH’s year-end report also highlighted that 111 cervids were imported to Indiana last year, 1,100 were exported and 798 samples of chronic wasting disease (CWD) were collected from the species.

At last week’s meeting, a proposed rule was read which would add reindeer to the list of cervids susceptible to CWD, and amend the requirement for cervids being moved into Indiana to either originate from a certified tuberculosis (TB)-free or monitored herd. Hunting preserves would also be subject to enforcement actions regarding sample collection under this rule.

The 2018 report recognized the loss of 114 dairy farms from 2017. Among the remaining farms are 31 robotic dairies (increased from 2017) with a collective 158 robots. A total of 4.15 billion pounds of milk were produced in the state in 2018.

A rule involving dairy and dairy cross cattle was passed at the meeting, which will remove sexually-intact females six months and older from the list of “test eligible” cattle in an accredited TB-free state or zone.

Indiana ranks first in duck inventory and second in chicken inventory according to 2018 numbers. In the past year, however, virulent Newcastle disease (vND), which is a contagious and fatal virus for birds and poultry, has been detected in the country.

“The state of California and USDA have been in the throes of a vND eradication program in backyard birds since May of 2018,” Marsh explained. “Unfortunately, the disease has been recently diagnosed in a commercial chicken facility – the first diagnosis in a commercial facility since 2003.”

BOAH’s 2018 report highlights the board’s efforts to prepare for disease. As of 2018, 1.9 million 840-tags have been placed on livestock, and 65,577 premise IDs have been registered in the state as an effort to improve animal traceability.

BOAH’s 93 percent digitally-issued livestock certificates of veterinary inspection have improved traceability response time, according to Maria Cooper, deputy director of biodefense, food protection and high-consequence disease preparedness. BOAH can trace animal movements in an average of 5 minutes, 24 seconds, while the national average for such an exercise is 23 hours.

“BOAH completed nine USDA Trace Performance Exercises this quarter,” she said. “The average time to completion was 4.9 minutes, down from 7.2 minutes last quarter.”

The meeting concluded with the decision to hold the next quarterly meeting on April