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Pork group tackles new disease threat

Agriculture.com Staff 06/05/2013 @ 10:37am

The National Pork Board has approved $450,000 in checkoff funds to direct research on a new disease threat facing the pork industry -- porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). The announcement came less than three weeks after the positive identification of PEDV in the U.S., according to a statement from the pork group. 

"The National Pork Board took this action to help get answers to U.S. producers as quickly as possible to help protect their herds from this devastating disease," said Conley Nelson, National Pork Board president and producer from Algona, Iowa, in a statement. "Because of the investment producers make as part of checkoff, we're able to respond quickly to sudden disease threats such as this."

PEDV is not a new virus outside of the U.S., nor is it a disease that is regulated and reported, NPPC said. The disease instead is a "production-related disease that hits young pigs under three weeks of age particularly hard," according to Dr. Paul Sundberg, the Pork Checkoff's vice president of science and technology. In the states that have reported the disease, mortality rates have been high in young pigs, while older pigs that may get the virus typically recover.

"Since PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not a trade-restricting disease," Sundberg said. "While PEDV may appear clinically to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea, producers who suspect their herd may be infected should work with their herd veterinarian immediately if any TGE-like symptoms appear. And, as always, they should maintain strict biosecurity protocols."

The Pork Board's swine health committee will oversee the PEDV research with the goal of getting "real answers about the spread and transmission of the disease, along with measures to detect, diagnose, prevent, and control it." The committee and the Pork Checkoff's science and technology team will work closely with the key industry partners, such as the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Producers Council, and state pork associations, Sundberg said.

"As with all of our research, we want it to be transparent and objective," Conley said. "And in this case, it must be very specific with quick turnaround times so that we can get answers quickly."

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