INDIANAPOLIS — According to the Indiana Board of Animal Health, roughly 75% of emerging diseases in humans have their origins in animals.

Indiana ranks number one nationwide in commercial ducks, two in eggs, and three in pounds of turkey produced, meaning one biological threat can have significant economic and health impacts for the state.

”With the intensity of our poultry operations, we want to make sure we’re on high alert,” Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana State Veterinarian with the Indiana Board of Animal Health, said.

Dr. Marsh said Indiana is one of two states that requires poultry, swine, and livestock producers to register with their state’s board of animal health.

Last week, the board asked the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense to consider a nationwide, standardized system after a devastating outbreak of HPAF left 58 million birds in the U.S. dead last year.

”We’re only as well-prepared as the least-prepared state,” Dr. Marsh said.

Indiana is also the fifth largest pork producer in the country, making the growing threat of African Swine Fever a top priority for the BOAH. Although there are no known cases in the U.S., the disease has made its way to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Experts say if the disease hits the U.S., the domestic pork industry could lose billions of dollars.

”When a country becomes positive for that virus…other countries now are within their rights to say we will not accept any more exports, U.S. exports for pork,” Paul Ebner, a professor with the Purdue University Department of Animal Sciences, said.

But it’s not just pork and poultry the commission is worried about. Purdue plant pathologist Darcy Telenko said a fungal outbreak in 2021 cost Indiana corn growers $250 million. Now with Red Crown Rot making its way from the southern U.S. to the Midwest, Telenko said she’s asking the commission to consider increased funding, collaboration and training for extension office specialists before the disease hits.

”We need to make sure we have the next generation trained up, and ready to take over because it’s going to constantly be changing,” Telenko said. 

Telenko said if you have concerns about the health of your plants, you can send samples to the state’s plant diagnostic lab. For pork producers, the BOAH says diseases like African Swine fever can present as blister-type lesions. if you see those on your animals, the board says you should report that to them immediately.