April 2017 Workshop: Developing a National Bio-surveillance System for the U.S. Swine Industry

On April 12-13, 2017, representatives from the U.S. swine industry, state animal health officials (SAHOs), federal animal health officials, and academia came together for a common priority to discuss protecting swine health and developing a national bio-surveillance system for the U.S. swine industry. The workshop was hosted by the National Pork Board (NPB), the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC), and the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD; with funding support from the Department of Homeland Security [DHS]). For a press release on the workshop, click here.

Workshop Objectives

Objective 1: Identify gaps, tools, and research needs for a workable, credible, affordable, and robust national bio-surveillance system supporting coordinated early detection, rapid response, and efficient control of Foreign Animal Diseases (FAD), and enables improved prevention of FADs and emerging/re-emerging priority diseases to the U.S. swine industry. Such a system would additionally support trade and commerce surveillance information needs.

Specific outcomes included:

  • review current capabilities for the national bio-surveillance system
  • identify needed capabilities of a national bio-surveillance system for today’s U.S. swine industry
  • identify current gaps and barriers to improvements to the U.S. national bio-surveillance system
  • recommendations on capabilities and implementation needs for a real-time surveillance system to trigger improved detection of known diseases


Objective 2: Develop a road map to address gaps, barriers, and research needs (identified in Objective 1) for improvement and implementation of the sustainable successfully functioning, national rapid bio-surveillance system that meets the needs of the U.S. pork industry as well as state and federal animal health authorities.

Specific outcomes included:

  • identify barriers for each state, federal, and industry partners to successfully implement a bio-surveillance system.
  • prioritized next steps
  • identify resource needs, responsible parties, and realistic timeframe to accomplish roadmap creation


The meeting was designed as a way to meet current and future U.S. swine industry needs and took into account current United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) programs and planning. Participants included producers from the NPB Swine Health Committee and SHIC leadership, industry representatives, SAHOs, USDA APHIS Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH), DHS, and academia. There was a significant consensus among the industry stakeholders participating in the workshop regarding attributes of an optimal risk-based comprehensive disease preparedness system and that a modern robust national bio-surveillance system is a vital component. Among all participants there was a commitment to timely forward progress. The following are agreed upon key elements and priority actions.


Key Elements of an Optimal Risk-Based Comprehensive Disease Preparedness System

  1. Supports prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery from foreign and emerging animal diseases of concern.
  2. Leverages the marketing chain to require specific data, such as premises identification associated with shipments or lots, for capture during sale
  3. Includes a process for prioritizing, evaluating, implementing and revising surveillance objectives
  4. Includes feed and other inputs common among pork production systems
  5. Utilizes standardized, electronic, real-time data capture for data that will support risk-based preparedness, like animal movements, premises identification, slaughter information, and veterinary diagnostic laboratory information
  6. Allows access-controlled information sharing from various permissioned levels to respect data confidentiality
  7. Relies on regularly validated and updated premises identification information
  8. Facilitates communication between existing industry, state, federal disparate response and database systems
  9. Leverages trained production personnel on farms to collect easily obtained, aggregate samples (i.e. oral fluids) for diagnostic testing
  10. Uses triggers to automatically identify anomalies for further investigation
  11. Includes inputs about multi species movements to facilitate risk based movement decisions
  12. Produces timely action oriented executive summary information for “rapidly digestible situational awareness”


Priority Action Items to Achieve Progress toward an Optimal System

  1. Identify a committee to establish timelines and monitor assignments of roles/responsibilities for activities
  2. Validate oral fluids based diagnostic assay for priority FADs and address policy barriers to support assay transition to, and use by, National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratories
  3. Establish a network of producers, SAHOs, and NAHLN laboratories in the core pork producing states to work together to (among others):
    1. Review state capacities and resources with the goal to identify and ensure personnel, infrastructure, and resources to develop an animal health infrastructure that works seamlessly between core states
    2. Determine data needs at the different levels to make decisions
      1. Identify and address barriers to garner state and federal acceptance of domestic animal movements from a NAHLN laboratory negative test result
      2. Establish and implement processes to incentivize or require a premises identification number to be associated with all veterinary diagnostic laboratory submissions
    3. Ascertain systems currently being used to collect, store, message, and share data
    4. Establish a standard protocol and training to allow accredited veterinarians and trained field staff, under the supervision of an accredited veterinarian, to collect diagnostic samples when federal FAD Diagnostician resources are exhausted
    5. Establish a means to incentivize or require completed diagnostic laboratory submission forms to be submitted with diagnostic samples
    6. Address barriers to enable more effective use of the NAHLN laboratories – some identified priorities include:
      1. Allow laboratories to run FAD tests for which they have proficiency tested personnel, with established protocols for communication of results
      2. Continue work to harmonize swine diagnostic test results messaging and analysis of these data from swine diagnostic laboratories to facilitate inter-laboratory and constituency communication.
      3. Deliver timely reporting of test results in an electronic format, directly into appropriate state, federal, or industry data management systems
  1. Transition Certificates of Veterinary Inspection and Interstate Movement Reports (Commuter Agreements) entirely away from paper and in to usable electronic formats
  2. Review progress and continue to evaluate priorities after one year