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Agricultural News

Preventing Spread of ASF and More with Alicia Gorczyca-Southerland

Wed, 10 Aug 2022 11:10:04 CDT

Preventing Spread of ASF and More with Alicia Gorczyca-Southerland Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, had the chance to talk with Assistant State Veterinarian for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Alicia Gorczyca-Southerland about preventing the spread of foreign animal diseases such as African Swine Fever.

Fear of African Swine Fever has increased in the pork industry recently as the dangers of the disease entering the United States have become ever-present.

“It is very serious for us,” Gorczyca-Southerland said. “We are number nine in pork production in the United States. We have a very extensive show pig industry, so the introduction of ASF into the United States would be devastating to the pork industry whether you are a show pig or commercial swine company.”

Gorczyca-Southerland said the state of Oklahoma is focusing on the ports because ASF could spread by way of international travelers coming into the United States.

‘We are looking at illegal smuggling of pork products, because ASF actually survives the processing of pork products, so that can be introduced to swine here in the United States just through typical garbage feeding which Oklahoma outlawed several years back,” Gorczyca-Southerland said.

Efforts in Oklahoma, Gorczyca-Southerland said, are focused on educating producers about biosecurity and steps they can take to prevent disease introduction onto their place.

“We have been working with the United States Department of Agriculture on a protocol that they are calling a mandatory stop movement, so that is going to be approximately 72 hours, and that means any swine products,” Gorczyca-Southerland said. “Any live swine and semen would stop the movement for that 72-hour period.”

This stop in movement for 72 hours, Gorczyca-Southerland said, allows the USDA along with state animal health officials to get a grasp on the scope of where the disease is and more importantly where it is not, so when they lift the order, continuity of business can be maintained for individuals who are not within a controlled area.

“What would be included in a 72-hour stand-still, unfortunately, would be shows, so if this was timed during OYE, it is heartbreaking for those kids and those families and those chapters, but we have to protect the industry as a whole and so that would be things that the state veterinarian would be considering is stopping those shows at that time because again, pigs are still moving and we don’t want that to be happening,” Gorczyca-Southerland said.

If there were hogs at a livestock show, Gorczyca-Southerland said, they would have to stay in place until that stand-still was lifted.

“They would just sit tight at those fairgrounds at that time until we lifted that order until we knew it was safe to move back home,” Gorczyca-Southerland said. “The same goes for the commercial side of things.”

Gorczyca-Southerland also talked about a program that certifies that hog producers are African Swine Fever and Classical Swine Fever free within their herds.

“SHIP stands for the United States Swine Health Improvement Program, and it was modeled after the National Poultry Improvement Program or NPIP,” Gorczyca-Southerland said. “NPIP is a national program that allows particular flock owners certification purposes stating that their flocks are free or clean from specific diseases. That is what SHIP is modeled after and so what we are looking at is to certify that our producers are African Swine Fever as well as Classical Swine Fever free within their herds.”

Gorczyca-Southerland said that all sectors of the livestock industry need to be very vigilant about maintaining biosecurity protocols not only for foreign animal disease prevention, but because most endemic diseases can be eliminated or lessened by implementing simple biosecurity practices.

Things all livestock producers can do across the board to practice biosecurity, Gorczyca-Southerland said, include things like controlling the traffic on and off of the farm.

“Maintaining what we call a line of separation, so it just means you put an imaginary line in the dirt,” Gorczyca-Southerland said. “Anything that crosses that line needs to be considered clean, so you have clean shoes, clean clothing, clean hands as you go, and maintain your animals.”

Before you go home and take care of your own animals, Gorczyca-Southerland said to change your clothing, change your shoes, and have dedicated equipment to work with your animals.

“Isolate new introductions to your farm whether that is the pasture down the road if you are fortunate enough, or it is simply a pen that is in the back part of your property just to make sure that animals you’ve brought on are not going to exhibit any diseases that potentially spread to the remainder of your herd and flock,” Gorczyca-Southerland said.

If you see something unusual in your livestock herd or flock, Gorczyca-Southerland said to be sure to report it.

“If you don’t feel comfortable reporting it to the state veterinarian’s office, please contact your veterinarian that you work with,” Gorczyca-Southerland said.

There are specific clinical signs that veterinarians are trained to recognize, Gorczyca-Southerland said, so if you see any issues in your own herd or flock, contact them, and arrange a visit so that they can take a look.

“If they see anything that is suspicious, then they will contact our office so we can start an investigation,” Gorczyca-Southerland said.

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Alicia Gorczyca-Southerland on preventing and handling animal disease outbreak.



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