Significant attention is being paid to addressing the risk of transmitting African swine fever and other foreign animal disease causing pathogens through feed ingredients.
Speaking to Farmscape, Swine Health Information Center Executive Director Dr Paul Sundberg acknowledges that the factors that influence the survivability of these pathogens in feeds are not yet fully understood.
"What we surmise and what we postulate from the research is that there is some sort of protective mechanism, most probably due to protein content, that can happen in a feedstuff that helps protect a virus," explains Dr Sundberg.
"For example, the viruses that we use, one is Seneca Valley virus which we use as a surrogate for foot-and-mouth disease and also as an example of a very hearty virus.
"When we've done research on the survivability of that virus in, for example, soybean meal that might be imported into the country or might be transported around the country, that virus survives better in the soybean meal than it does even in the medium in which it's supposed to grow.
"There's something in that soybean meal that is helping to protect the virus from degrading over time.
"We don't know exactly what all that is and why that happens.
"That's certainly a researchable question but we expect that it might be due to protein content in some manner."
A real point of our research effort is to try to understand that and to help people respond to it and do better at protecting their pigs and themselves from introduction of disease through those kinds of feedstuffs.