The Swine Health Information Center is exploring the potential of using tongue tips as a diagnostic tool to identify and track emerging diseases.

The Swine Health Information Center is evaluating submissions from a request for research proposals to investigate tongue tips as a novel diagnostic sample type in hopes they’ll help provide critical information to effectively respond to an emerging disease outbreak.

SHIC Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg says tongue tips can be readily harvested from mummies or aborted fetuses, are available with any type of mortality and offer an opportunity to look at the transmission of disease, especially viruses, both vertically and horizontally.

We want to look at the opportunity for using tongue tips for that vertical and horizontal transmission of viruses. We want to see if and use this as an example. Perhaps we will be able to get specific information, better information about PRRS virus infections that are going on on the farm vertically as well as horizontally.

So, we are looking at using these tissues as a way to investigate if they can be used to help with PRRS stability or elimination as a model for emerging disease. Remember, the Swine Health Information Center centers on emerging diseases. It focuses specifically on emerging diseases.

PRRS is an endemic disease in the U.S. but I think that this is and example of using PRRS as an example of applying a technology that can be used in the face of an emerging disease. If we can learn how to use this easily harvested tissue in PRRS virus then we may be able to learn better how we can expect it could be used for other emerging diseases that we might find.

~ Dr. Paul Sundberg, Swine Health Information Center

Dr. Sundberg says tongue tips are already being submitted to diagnostic labs and the goal of this effort is to understand the potential breadth of tongue tips as a sample type for monitoring emerging diseases.