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Agencies, meatpackers prep for potential spread of swine disease

DES MOINES — Meat processors and agriculture officials are working to make sure they’re prepared for a highly-contagious swine disease. Tyson Foods, the U-S-D-A, the Iowa Department of Ag and other industry groups took part in a mock exercise last month to work on their response to a simulated African Swine Fever outbreak.

Rosemary Sifford with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the agency is monitoring the spread of the disease around the world. “Dominican Republic and Haiti right now are our biggest concern in terms of proximity of the virus to the United States and the risk level,” Sifford says, “but we do also still recognize the risk level for products and people moving from other countries that have the virus in Asia and Europe.”

Among the things the groups want to work on is encouraging trucks to get washed as soon as they leave a packing plant to avoid contaminating farms. During the exercise, KatieRose McCullough with the North American Meat Institute says the industry found some areas it needs to work on, including: “Identifying maybe those employees that have hogs at home,” McCullough says. “Are they being provided different PPE to be wearing in our facility or alternative clothing?”

There is no vaccine for African Swine Fever. The disease can be deadly to pigs and economies could also take a hit. Some governments ban pork imports from countries where the disease is confirmed.



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