PHWC publishes biennial report

The Pig Health and Welfare Council (PHWC) has published its third biennial report detailing the work completed by the group between 2015 and 2016. 

Highlights for the PHWC included work on controls for porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv), contingency plans for new and emerging diseases, identification of existing and future data sources, examination of incidents of tailbiting, monitoring levels of salmonella in slaughter pigs and further investigation into antimicrobials.

The report also covered the reorientation of the PHWC strategy. It now has four subgroups that focus on welfare, food safety, disease surveillance and antimicrobials.

It added that “efforts are being made to widen the remit of the PHWC to take in a more UK-wide view of health and welfare matters, reflecting that disease does not respect boundaries and that sharing information between the devolved regions will be of universal benefit”.

Group chairman Jim Scudamore said: “Animal health remains an important topic for the PHWC. In 2015 the focus of the work was on developing the contingency plan for potential outbreaks of highly virulent PEDv with a focus on practical control measures. This was industry-led by AHDB Pork with assistance from the government through the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Having developed the PEDv contingency plan, the overall surveillance requirements of the industry were considered at the syndromic surveillance roundtable in 2016.”

Chief veterinary officer Neil Gibbens praised the progress made. “I welcome the continued focus on the control strategy for PEDv. This resulted in PEDv becoming notifiable in England in 2015 and the PEDv contingency plan has been developed further, along with a series of updated standard operating procedures. This is an important measure as it reflects concern about the potential impact of the disease should it be introduced to the UK.”

He added that the report showed the industry was looking to the future. “The report provides invaluable information on horizon-scanning, detailing potential threats to the UK pig industry that were flagged during 2015/16. This emphasises the importance of high-quality and comprehensive surveillance in order to identify threats to the industry, which can include emerging, exotic or endemic diseases or those which are of significant threat to trade.”

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