Japanese encephalitis an emerging swine disease threat

The Swine Health Information Center is tracking an emerging disease threat.

SHIC director Dr. Paul Sundberg says Australia is dealing with an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.

“That’s a virus that is transmitted through mosquitos (and) is a first cousin to West Nile.”

Both viruses are transmitted by mosquitos and birds act as reservoirs.

But Sundberg tells Brownfield with Japanese encephalitis, pigs are called amplifying host.

“If an infected mosquito bites a pig, the pig gets viremic at high enough levels that when more mosquitoes come and bite that pig, then they can spread it to others and spread it farther.”

Sundberg says as much as 10 percent of Australia’s annual pork production has been affected by the outbreak.

He’s also concerned because the virus can infect people and has resulted in at least four deaths.

Brownfield interviewed Sundberg at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines.

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