Antimicrobial plans, a new Board member and African Swine Fever

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board of animal health

Animal Bytes

September 2018

African Swine Fever update and overview

Image of swine sample tubes

African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks are currently affecting Eastern Europe and China. Belgium reported finding ASF earlier this month in wild boars. In China, around 20 outbreaks have been reported across eight provinces.

ASF is a highly contagious disease of swine, including domestic hogs, warthogs, European wild boar and American wild pigs. It produces a range of clinical signs and lesions. As a hemorrhagic disease, it closely resembles classical swine fever.

The disease has a short incubation period of three to seven days, followed by a high fever, and death in five to 10 days. Forms of ASF also include a chronic manifestation, which is characterized by emaciation, swollen joints and sometimes respiratory problems. 

There are some areas of the world where ASF is endemic, including countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The virus is found in all body fluids and tissues. Pigs become infected by direct contact with infected pigs or by ingestion of unprocessed infected pig meat or products. Biting flies, ticks, contaminated farms, and fomites can also spread the virus.

The virus is highly resistant to a wide pH range, and to freezing and thawing. The virus can remain infectious for many months at room temperature. Virus in body fluids and serum is inactivated in 30 minutes at 140°F; virus in unprocessed pig meat can remain viable for several weeks.

There is no treatment for ASF, and no vaccine. Successful eradication involves rapid diagnosis, slaughter and disposal of all animals on an infected farm.

The University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is an ASF-approved testing facility. The lab can test whole blood samples submitted by a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostician. The lab is also receiving approval to test tonsil tissue in early October.

What does ASF look like?

More updates...

FDA antimicrobial stewardship announces five-year plan

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) recently released its five-year antimicrobial stewardship plan for veterinary settings. This plan builds upon the important steps CVM has taken to eliminate production uses of medically important antimicrobials (i.e., antimicrobials important for treating human disease) and to bring all remaining therapeutic uses of these drugs under the oversight of licensed veterinarians. It also supports the judicious use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals and is driven by the concept that medically important antimicrobial drugs should only be used in animals when necessary for the treatment, control or prevention of specific diseases.

Learn about the CVM's antimicrobial efforts.

Rural mental health awareness and resources

Do you know someone who's going through a tough time or exhibiting signs of stress or depression? Please remember, there are resources available to assist anyone in a simple and confidential way!

  • Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline: 833-600-2670 extension 1
    Free, confidential, 24/7. This call center is located in Minnesota. Calls are answered by trained staff and volunteers. If you or someone you know is struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts — call. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to somebody you don’t know.
  • Ted Matthews, Rural Mental Health Counselor: 320-266-2390
    Ted works with farmers across the entire state. No cost; no paperwork. The service is available thanks to funds from the Minnesota Legislature. Center of Agriculture Mental Health Outreach Brochure Program (PDF)
  • Mobile Crisis Teams
    Available in every Minnesota county, counselors can respond quickly and provide in-person, short-term counseling or mental health services during a crisis or emergency. Calls are answered immediately 24 hrs/day. Responders travel in private vehicles and generally arrive within 2 hours.
  • University of Minnesota “Dealing With Stress” Website
    Insights, tips, and resources to help you identify, manage, and help others who are experiencing stress.

New Board of Animal Health member appointed

Governor Dayton recently appointed Erica Sawatzke to an open livestock producer position on the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Erica owns a sixth generation turkey breeder farm with her husband in Farwell, Minnesota. She previously worked for the Minnesota Turkey Grower's Association on their communications team. 

Erica attended her first quarterly Board meeting on Wednesday, September 19. Her appointment was effective September 15, 2018 and will expire January 3, 2022.

Want to share your brand?

The Society for Range Management (SRM) is looking for individuals who would like to submit their livestock brand to be included on a Wild Rag designed and sold as a fundraiser for their youth programs.

SRM is an organization that promotes conservation and sustainable management of rangelands. Its annual convention is in Minneapolis this year and they hope to design this year’s Wild Rag with brands from local cattlemen. If you or someone you know are interested, please email:

West Nile Virus update

2018 WNV cases by county: Beltrami, Big Stone, Fillmore (2 cases), Hennepin, Meeker, Pine, Polk, Sherburne, Stearns (alpaca case), Todd, Waseca (mule case).

All cases were either unvaccinated or had no records of vaccination against West Nile Virus.

Last updated: 09/17/2018