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Weekly Overview: Pig Diseases Hit the Headlines

03 February 2014

GLOBAL - Two of the hot topics in the pig industry in the Western Hemisphere this week are new outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED), writes Jackie Linden. Ukraine and Lithuania have reported their first cases of ASF in the last week, while PED continues to spread in the US and Canada, amidst early evidence that a new virus strain has emerged in the US.

The first case of African Swine Fever in the European Union has been reported in the last week - in a wild boar in Lithuania.

Current EU regulations aimed at halting the spread of this disease include intensified surveillance of wild boars and pigs, sending samples to the EU Reference laboratory for more detailed analysis and keeping pigs isolated in their holding, unless authorised. Furthermore, the dispatch has been prohibited of live pigs, pig semen, ova and embryos and pig meat from six districts in Lithuania.

These measures are due to be reviewed at an EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health later this week.

Following the finding a wild boar dead on its border with Russia in the same region in early January, Ukraine has reported its first cases of ASF in domestic pigs. Five animals that died in a backyard herd in the Lugansk region tested positive or the ASF virus late last week.

The same disease reportedly killed 600 pigs in Ghana earlier this year.

Also on ASF, one of our features this week describes how an international group of researchers has developed a model that suggests it is mainly domestic transmission of ASF that accounts for the persistence of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

This contrasts with the situation in eastern Europe, where the diseases is not endemic but where ASF outbreaks in domestic pigs all to often follow reports of infections in wild boar.

In North America, the pig disease that continues to hit the headlines is Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED).

Last week, we reported that PED had spread to Canada. As of 31 January, five outbreaks of the disease have now been confirmed - all of them in Ontario - in addition to positive tests for the virus at three pig handling facilities.

In the United States, the total number of swine accessions and diagnostic case submissions testing positive for the PED virus (PEDv) now stands at 2,692. The increase in the number of swine samples testing positive for the virus has set another new record for the latest week. The number of states affected remains at 23.

There are indications that the PEDv may be evolving in the US. The viruses from five recent cases investigated by Iowa State University have a different gene sequence from those investigated since April 2013, showing greater similarity to strains isolated in China between 2004 and 2012.

PEDv retained infectivity in drinking water for more than one week, according to new research at the University of Minnesota.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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