More funding for US PEDV research

The National Pork Board (NPB) in the United States is to spend another $350,000 (£229,000) towards efforts to better understand Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV). The new money brings the total spent by the organisation on the disease so far to ($800,000) £525,000.

The vice president of science and technology at the NPB, Paul Sundberg, said his number one priority was to contain spread of the virus with the goal of increasing the potential to eliminate the disease.

“Through research we just completed, we have already have determined that transportation of sows and market hogs can be a major risk factor in the spread of PEDV,” he said. “The next step is to assemble a team of pork producers, veterinarians, packers and processers to refine a biosecurity approach.”

Current research is focused on diagnostics and surveillance, pathogenicity, transmission risk factors and educating pork producers and transporters on steps they can take to eliminate it. PEDV is spread in a fecal-oral manner. As such, pork producers, handlers and transporters are urged to follow strict biosecurity measures. Special care needs to be taken to wash and completely disinfect transport vehicles.

Researchers have already found the virus present on the surfaces of truck and animal chutes, so having strict transportation biosecurity is critical to stopping its spread. General transportation biosecurity tips include:

  • When visiting a site or packing plant, transporters should wear coveralls and boots to prevent contamination in the cab of the trailer and to minimise exposure to other pigs.
  • Establish a “clean” and “dirty” zone for farm and transport workers to follow during load-in and load-out.
  • Clean and disinfect trailers after use. This is especially important when going to sites such as cull depots, packing plants or buying stations.
  • Remove dirty shavings, manure and other debris. The use of a detergent soap can help to break down dried manure and speed up the wash process. 
  • After cleaning the trailer, use a disinfectant according to label directions to kill the virus. 
  • Wash coveralls, boots and other equipment when transporting pigs and clean the interior of the tractor cab to remove any dirt or shavings.
  • Once clean, park the tractor and trailer in a secure location away from other vehicle traffic to dry.

“Many questions remain unanswered about PEDV, including how it entered the US and the precise number of pigs that have become infected,” Mr Sundberg added. “What’s important to keep in mind is that PEDV is not a human health issue but rather a pig production disease, and we know that enhanced biosecurity measures are extremely important in containing the virus.”

PEDV was identified in US pig herds in mid-May this year. By mid-July, 346 cases of PEDV had been confirmed in 14 states, although most of the outbreaks are in Iowa and Oklahoma.

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