BPEX publishes Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea information

A major outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea in the United States is causing losses of 50-100% of affected piglets. The virus has been reported on 200 units in 13 states since May. It also appears to be spreading.

In China more than a million piglets have died in an outbreak that started in October 2010. The virus from the outbreak in the US is said to be 99.4% similar to that in China.

The Chinese outbreak, where the virus has been endemic since 1973 and where vaccination has been widely practiced, suggests that were the new strains from China and/or the US to be introduced to the UK there is a significant risk that the impact of the disease could be severe with piglet mortality at levels similar to that in the US.

BPEX head of research and development, Derek Armstrong, has compiled the following list of key facts about Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea:

  • Keeping the strains of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus, linked to losses of 50 to 100% of piglets in the US and China, out of the UK is the number one priority.
  • Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) is a viral disease caused by a coronavirus.
  • The disease has been present in a mild form in the UK since at least 1971.
  • In 2010, a variant strain was identified on pig farms in China resulting in decreased efficacy of the PED vaccines routinely used in Chinese sow herds and severe disease (high morbidity and mortality).
  • Introduction of PED virus into a naïve herd typically results in acute outbreaks of severe diarrhoea, vomiting, high morbidity (often 100%) and variable mortality (some reports as high as 100% in young pigs).
  • The incubation period is short (2-4 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.
  • Biosecurity can prevent introduction of virus to farms by animal and human traffic.
  • Please contact your vet if you see new unusual clinical problems with diarrhoea particularly in piglets.
  • PEDV is not a listed disease of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and is not a notifiable disease in the UK.
  • It is not a zoonotic disease and there is no risk to other animals or to humans and no risk to food safety.

More information is available on the BPEX website at: www.bpex.org.uk/R-and-D/Pig-Health/surveillance.aspx

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