October 25, 2018
US employs detector dogs to prevent African swine fever from entering territory
The US Department of Agriculture is utilizing dogs to detect diseases, particularly African swine fever, in pork products entering the United States.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shared that one of their trained detector dogs, named Hardy, early this month intercepted a roasted pig head in traveler baggage from Ecuador at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
"African swine fever is a devastating, deadly disease affecting all kinds of pigs, both domestic and wild—and keeping our pork industry safe is a top priority", Perdue said.
"The quick work of a beagle and the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) staff prevented a potential animal health issue and further highlighted the need to be vigilant in safeguarding the US against foreign animal diseases".
USDA said the dogs are being trained for the job at its National Detector Dog Training Centre in Newnan, Georgia. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's plant protection and quarantine programme and the Department of Homeland Security's CBP use detector dog teams, known as the Beagle Brigade, to search for prohibited agricultural products at major US airports and land border crossings, as well as mail and cargo facilities..
Tens of ASF outbreaks in China and the European Union over the past several months have prompted the USDA to review and strengthen its protections by partnering with the swine industry, producers, CBP and the travelling public.
"Because there's no treatment or vaccine available for this disease, we must work together to prevent this disease from entering the United States in order to best protect our farmers, our consumers and our natural resources," said Perdue.
"Good biosecurity is key to protecting pigs from any disease", he added.
The USDA said following are the signs of ASF:
-- high fever;
-- decreased appetite;
-- red, blotchy spots or lesions on the skin;
-- diarrhea, vomiting, coughing and difficulty in breathing.
It added that quick detection is key to preventing the disease from spreading and that sick pigs must be reported to state or federal animal health officials immediately for the appropriate testing.