The primary objective of the Swine Disease Eradication Center is to understand the pathogenesis and epidemiology of the target diseases and from there develop and validate strategies and techniques for their successful eradication under field conditions.
Infectious diseases still represent the major obstacle to successful swine production. Even with the widespread adoption of high-health technologies such as segregated early weaning (SEW), health constitutes a main concern for the industry. There are different types of infectious problems in pigs that impact the industry and industry sectors in different ways:
Severe Endemic Problems: Diseases such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Mycoplasma pneumonia plague the industry and defeat efforts at control through vaccination, treatment or management practice.
Zoonotic Problems: Traditional zoonotic infections by organisms such as Trichinosis still exist, although at minuscule levels.Together, with more endemic infections by Salmonella, Toxoplasma, Yersinia and Campylobacter, they constitute major stumbling blocks towards achieving the desired level of food safety that society now demands.
Subclinical Infections: Infections such as Cytomegalovirus, Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus, Hepatitis E virus and others represent one of the primary impediments for the emerging xenotransplantation industry. For many of these pathogens, traditional control efforts are not adequate.
In the case of severe endemic diseases, it is evident that they cannot control the problem as these diseases continue to be rampant and negatively affect the industry. In the case of both zoonotic and subclinical problems, these organisms need to be eliminated if we are to satisfy society's concerns for safe pork or if we are to be able to use the intriguing and exciting possibilities that xenotransplantation bring. The industry is moving very rapidly to disease eradication as the only real alternative to these problems. However, eradication techniques and their limitations are not well understood and attempts to eradicate these diseases in the field frequently fail. As these eradication schemes develop, it becomes clear that there are many areas of the diagnosis, pathogenesis and epidemiology of these pathogens that are not well understood. However, these areas are complex and cannot be studied by one person alone. These problems require a truly multidisciplinary team approach if adequate solutions are to be found.