The Transmission

A pathway to our perspectives, announcements, and the latest animal health and food safety news.

Weekly Update: UMN helps with Secure Pork Supply; Funding to support new methods in traceability; North Korea faces severe food shortages

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


University of Minnesota helps with Secure Pork Supply

The University of Minnesota and Dave Wright, DVM, produced a series of short videos to assist veterinarians and producers to identify and prepare for the possible introduction of Foreign Animal Disease (FAD). The goal of the videos are to supplement material provided by the Secure Pork Supply (SPS) website.

The videos provide information regarding the history, transmission, signs and symptoms, biosecurity, prevention, risks and economic implication of African swine fever, classical swine fever, and foot-and-mouth disease. The videos are part of step seven of the "Seven Steps to Participate in Secure Pork Supply," an initiative to provide commercial pork producers with a workable continuity plan of business in the event of a FAD outbreak.

The seven steps are: familiarize yourself to the SPS; validate your premises; obtain a premises identification number (PIN); print a map of your premises to create biosecurity plan; locate and compile records, logbooks, certificates of veterinary inspections and SOPs for biosecurity and traceability; enhance biosecurity part one: plan; enhance biosecurity part two: create and label a premises map; enhance biosecurity part three: write biosecurity protocols; and FAD training and response to identify FADs.

Swine Extension





Funding to support new methods in traceability

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of $1 million in cooperative agreement funding to support animal disease traceability and electronic identification for cattle. Animal disease traceability is extremely important for officials to know where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they have been, and when. These methods help to ensure a rapid response in the case of a disease outbreak, thereby reducing the number of animals affected, economic impact, and public health risk.

The funding will support between two and five projects that document how to link ultra high frequency backtags with other identification devices to collect animal health information while maintaining production efficiency. Backtags are used for the movement of cull cattle being imported from an out-of-state market to a state/federal approved market. The addition of radio frequency identification to backtags will support traceability in high-volume, fast-paced environments.

State and tribes can work with industry and academic groups to design and implement their projects. To receive funding, projects must demonstrate the ability to capture animal movement data at the speed of commerce and how that data can be stored and shared for traceability.




North Korea faces severe food shortages

A United Nations food security assessment found that about 10.1 million people in North Korea are suffering from severe food shortages. North Korea has had the worst harvest in 10 years due to occurrence of climate events such as dry spells, heat waves, and flooding, and limited agricultural supply such as fuel, fertilizer and spare parts. The food shortage means they do not have enough food to last until the next harvest.

The assessment discovered a food deficit of 1.36 million metric tons. There was noted worrying about low levels of food consumption, limited dietary diversity, and families being forced to cut meals or eat less. This is particularly concerning for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. The government's public distribution system, which a large portion of the population relies on for food, has had to cut rations to the lowest level ever for this time of year. This is also compounded by an absence of substantial external assistance, likely resulting in even further cuts.

The assessment recommends scaling up food assistance to meet immediate needs, and prioritizing areas where food needs are greatest and where climate impacts are most severe. In addition, the assessment also recommends an expansion of nutrition programs and disaster risk reduction to help with the food shortage.


Gus Brihn

Gus Brihn

Gus Brihn

Gus completed his undergraduate degree at the U of M in Global Studies, and has spent much of his time abroad, including time in France and Namibia. Gus became interested in emergency medicine from becoming a Wilderness First Responder and NR-EMT. He completed his veterinary degree at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Gus is interested in zoonotic disease outbreak investigation, prevention, and epidemiology. Outside of work, Gus enjoys rock climbing and doing Brazilian Jiu jitsu. He has an 11 year-old Staffordshire terrier mix breed dog named Sweet Pea.