NASDA provides African swine fever update
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) held its annual meeting Sept. 10-13 in Cheyenne, and Associate Director of Public Policy Stephanie McBath presented on African swine fever (ASF) during the convention.
McBath joined NASDA in 2022 and staffs the Animal Agriculture and Natural Resources and Environment Policy committees. Before joining NASDA, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in animal science and minored in business.
ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease, affecting both domestic and feral swine of all ages. It is not a threat to human health, as it cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, and therefore, is not a food safety issue.
However, it can quickly spread between swine populations and humans can transfer the disease through contact with clothing, farming equipment or by transporting uncooked pork products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
ASF background and overview
USDA reports ASF is found around the world, but recently, it has been detected in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in 2021.
“ASF has also been found in areas of China, Mongolia, Vietnam and parts of the European Union, but it has never been found in the U.S., and at NASDA, we want to keep it this way,” stated McBath. “An ASF outbreak could cripple the entire U.S. agricultural industry with long-lasting effects impacting the economy and swine production.”
According to NASDA, “Timely prevention, identification, control and when appropriate, eradication of animal diseases is essential to U.S. agricultural production, food security, public health, animal welfare and international market access.”
“NASDA is working closely with other federal and state agencies, the swine industry and pork producers to take necessary actions to protect our nation’s pigs and keep this disease out of the U.S. through preparedness and response,” McBath noted.
“Many individuals have heard of the USDA ASF response plan, “The Red Book,” and it is a great resource, but there are some potential gaps NASDA can help fill,” she continued.
Recently, NASDA sent out a nationwide survey at the end of August to gather information and assess each state’s ASF preparedness.
McBath encouraged NASDA members to complete the survey and distribute it to state staff and animal officials, noting the survey deadline is Oct. 1.
“Current statistics from 20 surveys revealed 60 percent of respondents agreed to update their response plan, but most agreed they have some form of plan in place,” she stated.
“Another survey question was on traceability, and over 68 percent of state respondents agreed they have some process to keep track of pigs within their state,” she added. “A question pertaining to the methods of depopulation and disposal along with supply issues was also surveyed, and in an overwhelming response, it was discovered many states rely heavily on the USDA stockpile for assistance.”
McBath concluded, “It’s important to have everyone on the same page, and NASDA is excited to coordinate between USDA APHIS Veterinary Services and regional state alliances to improve communication and the nation’s animal health network through an integrated approach to prevention, preparedness, response and recovery to livestock disease outbreaks of national significance.”
According to USDA, “There is no treatment or vaccine available for this disease, and if ASF were to hit the U.S., the National Pork Board estimates it could cost the nation’s pork industry as much as $8 billion a year.”
McBath reiterated, “This is why NASDA is committed to being a partner, working with governmental agencies and industry stakeholders to foster a collaborative approach to fill gaps and be there to support state needs.”
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.