Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica (BIVI) has been utilizing area regional control (ARC) programs with swine producers for more than six years. During their PEDV is Speaking: Are We Listening ? seminar at 2014 World Pork Expo, Dr. Erin Johnson, DVM, technical manager, PRRS Solutions Team explained that the goal of the ARC program, is to voluntarily get a group of producers in an area to work together to better understand and control the spread of disease in their neighborhoods, townships and counties. To make the ARC effective, continued Johnson, the producers must develop processes to provide open and transparent communication, cooperation in outbreak investigations, and coordination of their individual disease control efforts to create a positive effect.
While BIVI began working with producers who wanted to create ARC programs, PRRS (Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome) was the main issue at hand. Today these groups are using the same strategies and tactics to address PEDV (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus). People on the ARC team, including Johnson, have been providing a wide range of support to meet their producers’ needs as their programs evolve – especially into new disease areas. Johnson also noted that one of the most important lessons producers have learned through these programs are ways to improve biosecurity, a means to reduce viruses spreading and creating breakouts among herds.
Johnson has a saying about the ARC programs, “Transmit unto your neighbors as your neighbors would transmit unto you”. Very applicable especially in that many viruses that affect swine are airborne. In this example, one production facility can inadvertently transmit PRRS to their neighbor a few miles down the road.
The direct value, stresses Johnson, of an ARC program is improvements in health, productivity and ROI. In addition, there are indirect benefits including: reduction of infection risk; reduction of genetic diversity; generation of critical knowledge; improvement in on-farm morale; and improvement of the image of the swine industry.
Speaking of critical knowledge, Johnson said that when you combine the leanings from ARC programs with other research sources such as the Swine Health Incident Program and the Disease Bioportal website managed by University of California Davis, the industry is better able to track disease outbreaks.
Learn more about Area Regional Control in my interview with Dr. Erin Johnson: Interview with Dr. Erin Johnson
As Johnson mentioned, many ARC programs are know quickly advancing their collaborative efforts to fight PED. Once such ARC is the Northeast Illinois PRRS ARC (located in De Kalb county Illinois). The program is located in the number 2 hog producing county in Illinois and the county borders Chicago. Dr. Noel Garbes, DVM with Bethany Animal Hospital gave a testimony to their program. What began in literally a coffee shop, has grown into nearly 95 percent producer participation in their area.
He explained that producers sign a consent form so that their information can be shared during other meetings, such as this seminar where I heard him speak. During meeting producers share successes or areas in where they are struggling to get ideas and strategies from other producers. Now moving into PEDV, the ARC began issuing alerts and notifications (the first confirmation was December 26, 2013) of PED positive farms with positive results using the tools they already had in place.
In his area they have had success in keeping PED outbreaks fairly low and this is one reason why producers from his group are sharing their experiences with others. When I asked him what piece of advice he had for other producers, he cited something several other speakers noted: While is great to have 30 ARC, we need 300 ARC. Garbes said it only takes a few people to get an ARC started and he believes everyone should be involved because until everyone gets involved, we will always have a chance for new virus’ to emerge.
Learn more about the DeKalb Area Regional Control in my interview with Noel Garbes: Interview with Dr. Noel Garbes