2023 article

The Rapid Access Biosecurity (RAB) app™ Handbook

Machado, G., Galvis, J. O. A., Cardenas, N. C., Santos Ebling, D., Sykes, A., Fleming, C., … Mills, K. R. (2023, January 13).

By: G. Machado*, J. Galvis, N. Cardenas, D. Santos Ebling, A. Sykes, C. Fleming, F. Sanchez, K. Mills

Source: ORCID
Added: January 14, 2023

The well-established U.S. Secure Pork Supply (SPS) Plan for Continuity of Business serves as a guideline for enhancing the biosecurity features of swine farms to improve preparedness for outbreaks of foreign animal diseases. Participation in the SPS Plan program is voluntary but highly recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to the need for feasible, standardized procedures for restarting safe animal, semen, and transportation vehicle movements during outbreaks. Although the role of biosecurity is well understood in preventing disease spread, the U. S. swine industry lacks knowledge of individual farm biosecurity plans and the efficacy of existing biosecurity measures. The Rapid Access Biosecurity (RAB) app (RABapp™) consortium aimed to 1) reduce ambiguity regarding the construction of on-farm enhancement biosecurity plans; 2) provide rapid access to standardized biosecurity plans at a national level; and 3) track movements between farms allows for the ability to efficiently develop disease spread transmission model and transform these models into decision support tools for animal health official and swine industry. As a result, the RABapp™ project was developed by an assembled consortium of the swine industry, government officials, and academic scholars members.In this work, we focus on demonstrating the steps to enhance the on-farm biosecurity of individual swine farms and implement effective contact tracing by tracking between-farm movement data to help prevent the spread of infection to other farms.Enhance the on-farm biosecurityAlthough SPS plans help swine farms enhance their biosecurity features in preparation for infectious disease outbreaks, updating and accessing these plans in a timely manner before and during an emergency, is critical for swine industry resilience. Here, RABapp™ serves as a vital tool by providing producers, veterinarians, and government officials with:1) Rapid access to the SPS plan status of farms across regions and states to expedite the distribution of movement permits within control zones2) Visual, interactive maps of farm sites and their biosecurity features to help producers and veterinarians view and update their plans for multiple sites and enhance their preparedness.3) A secure portal to quickly update and edit SPS plans to ensure producers, veterinarians, and animal health officials have access to the latest biosecurity information.Movement data for animals and related productsThe integration of movement (animal, semen, and vehicle) data with SPS plans is a unique feature of RABapp™. RABapp™ calculates the transportation network of farms and displays this network within an interactive easy-to-use plot. Utilizing information extracted from SPS plans, RABapp™ also calculates the risk level of individual farms based on each farm’s biosecurity infrastructure and the volume of animals moving through specific sites. Combined, this enables pork producers, industry veterinarians, and animal health officials across the state lines to:1) Perform effective contact tracing to identify movement among infected and susceptible farms.2) Draw control zones within the app, which are used to guide the implementation of quarantines and other control strategies.3) Efficiently distributes the data needed to expedite movement permits to be issued by the animal health authorities to farms based on their location within the transportation network and control zone.Disease surveillance and transmission modelsThanks to the increasingly broad participation of the swine industry in the RABapp™ project, the team has utilized extensive movement and farm location data from swine companies to develop three state-of-the-art transmission models. The first two models enable the reconstruction of weekly outbreaks for two endemic diseases, PRRS and PEDV, while also providing short forecasts. In addition to the PRRS and PEDV models, the third and arguably most critical model is a transmission model for African swine fever (ASF). Tracking the spread of this major infectious disease threat as soon as the first case is detected on U.S. soil is a prominent goal of the RABapp™ project.