PEDV Answers Raise More Questions

US - This will be the third winter since the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) first found its way into the US swine herd. Thanks to a collaborative effort to help combat this costly disease, the pork industry is warily optimistic that the worst is past. However, questions remain.
calendar icon 1 October 2015
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“Little was known about PEDV before it was identified in US swine herds,” said Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the Pork Checkoff.

“And what we did know, much of that was from the late 1970s and early 1980s in Europe. In recent years, outbreaks in Asia shed some light on clinical signs and symptoms in animals.”

Today, the pork production sector has many more answers about PEDV than it did in May 2013, but more solutions are still needed. Answers about how PEDV entered the United States remain elusive, but there is a clearer understanding of how the virus is transmitted between farms and the importance of biosecurity, Becton said.

“We have learned a lot about herd immunity and vaccination,” said Harry Snelson, DVM, communications director for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

“We have discovered that sanitation is critical during transport and at swine concentration points, such as buying stations and packing plants.”

Of course, PEDV has provided a harsh lesson by showing how susceptible the US pork industry is to the introduction of exotic pathogens and how the domestic production system allows for transmission between farms.

“Production losses from PEDV are bad enough,” Becton said.

“But if the outbreak had been Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever or African Swine Fever, the fallout would have been multiple times worse.”

“PEDV has highlighted the need to understand the source of on-farm inputs and their potential to carry and transmit pathogens,” Snelson said.

“We need to understand vulnerabilities at the national level and at the farm level, and the industry has to take responsibility for its own protection.”

For swine veterinarians, that means continued work with clients to stress the importance of enhanced biosecurity and sanitation, to conduct diagnostics and to advise ways to maintain herd immunity, Snelson said.

Producers need to be cautious about inputs, vehicles, products and people coming onto the farm, particularly from foreign countries, Becton said. They also need to participate in state and federal animal-disease traceability programs by registering premises, recording animal movement, and using premises identification numbers on laboratory submissions.

“Work with your veterinarian to design and evaluate herd health plans,” Becton said. “If something looks wrong on your farm, contact your veterinarian and animal health officials immediately.”

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