Deadly Strain Poses PMWS-type Threat to British Pig Farms

UK - If the new acute strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) virus spread to Britain they will have an impact every bit as bad as PMWS — which has contributed to halving the national herd over the past ten and a half years. And there isn't an effective vaccine, writes NPA's Digby Scott.
calendar icon 4 July 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Highly infectious Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDV) is rampaging across the United States, causing losses of 50-100 per cent of piglets. Keeping the new strains out of Britain must be a number one priority, says BPEX vet, Derek Armstrong.

The disease has been present in a mild form in this country since at least 1971. But the United States and China strains are much more virulent.

The current outbreak in the States, which is still spreading, is causing losses of up to 100 per cent of affected piglets and has been reported on 200 units in 13 states since May.

The virus from the outbreak in the States is said to be 99.4 per cent similar to an outbreak in China which has killed more than a million piglets since October 2010.

Should these new strains be introduced to the United Kingdom, the impact could be devastating, with mortality rates in piglets of 50-100 per cent, warns Dr Armstrong.

He advises all producers to contact their vet if they see new unusual clinical problems with diarrhoea, particularly in piglets.

Introduction of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus into a naïve herd typically results in acute outbreaks of severe diarrhoea, vomiting, high morbidity (often 100 per cent) and variable mortality (some reports as high as 100 per cent in young pigs).

  • The incubation period is short (two to four days) and natural immunity develops over two to three weeks, resulting in colostral protection for neonatal piglets.
  • Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea causes watery diarrhoea, vomiting/regurgitation and anorexia.
  • Disease is most severe in neonatal pigs as they are more susceptible to dehydration. Diagnosis is based on laboratory testing.
  • Treatment is supportive to prevent dehydration — provide free access to high quality drinking water in a clean, dry, warm and draught free environment.
  • The virus spreads via the faecal-oral route and fomites.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea is a viral disease caused by a coronavirus. Biosecurity can prevent introduction of virus to farms by animal and human traffic. It is not a listed disease of the World Organization for Animal Health and is not a notifiable disease in the United Kingdom. It is not a zoonotic disease and there is no risk to other animals or to humans and no risk to food safety.

You can visit our PMWS/PCVAD page by clicking here.

Further Reading

Find out more information on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea by clicking here.

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