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Stepping Up Biosecurity on PEDV

David Ekstrom 04/08/2014 @ 9:26am

The fight against the porcine epidemic disease virus (PEDV) continues to be a strong one. Missouri’s 96 cases compare to 1,646 in neighboring Iowa, 407 in Illinois, 214 in Kansas and 331 in Oklahoma. The disease has been reported in 27 states.

The U.S Department of Agriculture’s quarterly report released March 28 shows that the disease is still spreading, but at a slower rate than last quarter. Nationally, reported cases increased by only 3%. Missouri pork producers saw cases double during the last quarter to 96, which is still far lower than most of the nation. “Hopefully, we have hit the peak,” says Marcia Shannon, University of Missouri Extension swine nutrition specialist. PEDV remains a major threat to the pork industry. “A thimble of fecal material could contaminate thousands of pigs,” she said.

Shannon credits biosecurity measures that have been taken by pork producers such as Scott Hays, a partner in Two Mile Pork, a family-owned operation near Monroe City. Two Mile Pork created a PEDV plan to supplement an existing biosecurity plan for its 4,400-head sow operation. 300 pigs are born at the facility each day, and if measures aren’t taken, the Hays family stands to lose 7, 500 pigs in three to four weeks.

To take prevention measures the facility is closed to tours and delivery trucks. The deliveries are made off-site and are fumigated with a disinfectant and taken to the facility after the vehicles have been washed and dried thoroughly. The employees wash before and after they enter the building as well as wear clean clothes before and after entering the facility. Employees wear clean disposable booties that have never touched the ground to create a line of separation. 

Employees at Two Mile Pork also make fewer trips to town to reduce exposure to areas where fecal matter may have been carried in on someone’s shoes. Shannon agrees that social isolation of pork producers is difficult. “They have restricted where they go and how they do business,” she said. “It’s very traumatic for the workers and the owners.”

According to Steve Moeller, an Ohio State University Extension swine specialist says, “New herds are being infected on a daily basis throughout the country, so it is very likely that we will see infections in populations not previously exposed to the virus the rest of the year.”

PEDV has been difficult to identify because its symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, dehydration and depression, are almost identical to those of transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TEGv), another coronavirus that sickens pigs. The only way to distinguish these two viruses is by laboratory testing. 

Trying to find the origin of how the PEDV virus is moving from farm to farm is extremely difficult. Despite facilities that are taken bio-secure precautions are still have problems. Still, Moeller said, strict bio-security measures are the best ways to prevent transmission among herds and reduce losses at this time, since vaccines are yet to be developed for such a new virus. 

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