Feral Swine in the U.S.: An Update on Disease Surveillance

In 2020 alone, USDA estimates there are 6 million feral swine in the U.S. creating issues for traditional livestock production, natural resources and other species. 

“Right now, it’s Germany getting all of the headlines, but we are keeping our attention on doing what’s needed to protect the U.S. pork industry,” Dave Pyburn, chief veterinarian with the National Pork Board, said in the Pork Checkoff Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Bulletin. “We know feral swine pose a threat to our domestic herd in several ways, and we are committed to working with our government and industry partners to bolster surveillance and testing of the feral herd.”

To address these ongoing issues, including domestic and foreign disease surveillance priorities of feral swine, USDA convened a technical working group consisting of swine industry representatives, state and federal animal health officials, university and wildlife experts. These experts included  Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center; Harry Snelson, American Association of Swine Veterinarians; Dave Pyburn and Patrick Webb, National Pork Board; Liz Wagstrom, National Pork Producers Council; and Bobby Acord, a consultant with the National Pork Producers Council.

The published review and recommendations report was a collaborative effort between USDA and the other groups for the purpose of addressing the feral swine threat to domestic swine health, the Swine Health Information Center shared in its latest newsletter.

In an article published in the Journal of Animal Science (2020, Vol. 98, No. 8, 1-3), “Perspectives on the past, present, and future of feral swine disease surveillance in the United States,” progress in management of feral swine is detailed.

“The rapid global spread of ASF (African swine fever) virus in the last 1-2 years in both domestic and wild swine has highlighted the need for vigilant surveillance and demonstrated the devastating impact of a foreign animal disease due to mortality, production losses, and restrictions to international trade," the authors wrote in the report.

The National Feral Swine Damage Management Program (NFSP) was created in 2014 with the mission of managing feral swine disease damage. Per the published report, about 3,000 samples from feral swine are tested each year for antibodies against classical swine fever (CSF), swine brucellosis (SB), and pseudorabies (PRV). A targeted surveillance program prioritizes counties based on existing feral swine populations, domestic pork production, landfills and other disease-driven factors, SHIC noted in its newsletter.

USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) established eight priorities for NFSP in 2018. They include:

  • Serologic (antibody) surveillance for foreign animal diseases (FAD)
  • Need for highly specific serologic tests for ASF for surveillance activities
  • Routine surveillance for SB and PRV should not negatively impact feral pig population control
  • For meaningful data, targeted, risk-based surveillance is appropriate
  • Flexibility for pilot, targeted surveillance of diseases is necessary
  • NFSP would benefit from additional disease expertise
  • For foot-and-mouth disease surveillance, syndromic work is preferred
  • Partnership among industry stakeholders for dealing with feral swine disease outbreaks is essential

Progress on each of these priorities is included in the report which also includes 2020 direction and priorities for NFSP. An updated framework for surveillance was also designed, SHIC noted. Further details on 2020 direction are included in the full report.

More from Farm Journal's PORK:

Monster-Sized Wild Pigs are on the Rise in Canada

Can You Really Trap Feral Pigs with Your Cell Phone?

Feral Swine: USDA Monitors World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species

How Colorado Eliminated Feral Hogs

Feral Hog Stomachs Tell Story of Destruction

Montana Puts Plan in Place to Keep Canadian Feral Hogs Out

Texas Community Hires Consultant to Fight Feral Hog Problem

 

Latest News

Winter cattle feeding
Cash Cattle Weaker As Grain Rallies

Cash cattle prices slipped lower throughout the week as packer demand was called moderate. Grain markets posted a significant rally on the heels of USDA's report on Tuesday.

2 hours ago
Packing plant workers
Fired Tyson Managers: ‘Betting Pool’ Stories Distorted

Former Tyson Foods Waterloo, Iowa, plant managers dispute claims of how an "office pool" regarding COVID-19 was portrayed in news stories and deny it was about how many employees would contract the virus.

1 hour ago
Dream Lake with Hallett Peak in the background, at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Hi-Plains Researchers To Help Protect Rocky Mountain National Park

A Texas A&M AgriLife team will work with the Colorado Livestock Association and other stakeholders to refine and evaluate practices to reduce agricultural ammonia emissions into Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

12 min ago
AL Ranch
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Launches “MBA NextGen”

MBA NextGen updates the popular MBA training modules making it easier than ever for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to share their story and advocate knowledgeably for the beef industry.

8 min ago
Greg Henderson
Overall Meat Sales Higher In 2020

Meat sales - both dollar values and volume - were significantly higher in 2020. Those gains, however, came at the expense of a crippled restaurant and food service industry that may take years to recover.

9 min ago
Progressive Beef
Progressive Beef and Wendy’s® Advance Partnership

Wendy's announces 15% increase in percentage of beef sourced through Progressive Beef-certified producers in 2020; on track to meet goal of at least 50% this year.

14 min ago