Predicting disease outbreaks before they occur


Predicting disease outbreaks before they occur

The Swine Health Information Center is working to predict disease outbreaks in swine herds well before they happen.

Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg says the center is working with the University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, and pork producers.  “Producers who are willing to share information, willing to share health status, willing to share information about their farms, where they are located and characteristics about their farm,” he says.  “And we can use that information to actually predict outbreaks of disease.”

He tells Brownfield they’re currently focused on PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus), but he’s hoping this will also be effective in predicting PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks before they happen.  “We’re at the point where using both those projects and looking at them together in different areas of the country with different weather patterns and different topography and different production – we are on the cusp of being able to predict up to two weeks ahead of time if a farm is going to break with PED,” he says. 

Sundberg says the predictor models give farms a chance to enhance their biosecurity efforts to help prevent disease outbreaks and it protects both animal health and producers’ profitability. 

While not 100 percent effective, Sundberg says they are seeing high accuracy in their predictor models. 

AUDIO: Dr. Paul Sundberg, Swine Health Information Center