17 May 2002

Tougher on swine fever

IMPROVED methods for the routine surveillance of classical swine fever are being considered by a new DEFRA working group.

Disease surveillance for classical swine fever has up to now been passive, says National Pig Association regional manager Ian Campbell. "This relies on symptoms being reported by vigilant producers and vets or during routine post-mortems."

But the situation has changed with porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome (PDNS) becoming so prevalent. This wasting disease can have similar symptoms to swine fever, possibly masking its presence in a herd, he says.

"In addition, there are new milder strains of swine fever which would not be picked up for some time after a herd becomes infected." Mr Campbell believes this is a real concern with mainland Europe continuing to have problems linked to endemic swine fever in wild boar

Methods being considered include routine blood sampling and testing meat juice on the slaughter line. &#42

at the same time as salmonella testing is being carried out. But the working group aims to ensure any new surveillance protocol is practical and low cost, he adds.