UK Government, Pig Industry to Launch Emerging Disease Plan

UK - On Monday 3 August, a new model that sees the Government and the pig industry work together to beat emerging animal diseases.
calendar icon 29 July 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

If the new model is successful it could be extended to other farming sectors in the fight against emerging disease threats.

Defra will be launching a month-long "dialogue" with pig-keepers and other stakeholders, to determine whether Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PEDv) should be made notifiable in England.

The Government website dialogue will explain the proposal to make PEDv notifiable and seek producers' views. It is ground-breaking for several reasons.

  • It proposes a new lightweight kind of notifiable regime, where producers and vets will be required to report suspicion of the disease, so advice and support can be provided via levy-payer funds.
  • There will be NO statutory movement controls, NO compulsory slaughter and NO blocks on exports.
  • Because the measure has been sought by industry, including NPA and the Pig Veterinary Society, Government has decided a full-blown consultation should be replaced by a less bureaucratic website dialogue, or "conversation" with the industry.

If the Defra dialogue demonstrates widespread industry support for making PEDv "lightweight notifiable", it is expected the new measure will come into force via Statutory Instrument around mid-November.

If PEDv becomes notifiable, in the event of a suspected case of the disease, a pig-keeper and his vet will be legally obliged to inform the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

If tests then prove positive, the agency will inform the appropriate organisation (AHDB Pork) in confidence, so that a package of support measures can be put in place for the affected farm, its neighbours and at-risk contacts.

The Statutory Instrument will cover all strains of the disease including the virulent Asian and American strains and the currently resurgent European strains, which have been causing mortality of up to 70 per cent in some countries.

Virulent strains of PEDv swept across the States in 2013 and 2014 causing up to 100 per cent mortality in young pigs. Many pig herds now have a measure of antibody protection — but the British herd remains naïve and Asian-American PEDv was reported in Ukraine recently and continues to pose a risk to the European Union pig industry.

AHDB Pork, NPA, British Pig Association and Pig Veterinary Society have all called on Government to make the disease notifiable so that if it arrives on these shores it can be identified quickly and the industry can carry out tracings and put biosecurity measures in place to prevent it spreading.

PEDv is highly infectious and it is widely considered a spoonful of infected material in a slurry store would be sufficient to infect every pig unit in the country.

The English pig industry has adopted the successful Canadian model where the goal is to identify any outbreak as quickly as possible, prevent further spread, and to introduce biosecurity measures designed to eliminate it from the unit concerned.

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