PEDV = Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (but don’t panic, at least not yet!)

Last Friday USDA APHIS VS reported to SAHO (state animal health officials) that Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) had been confirmed in the USA for the first time.

For those of you, like me, who weren’t familiar with this latest acronym – PEDV – think of it as a half-brother to TGE. And my apologies if that one’s new to you as well. But Transmissible Gastro-Enteritis virus is a disease we (swine producers and veterinarians) have successfully managed for decades.

Another point – the Chinese and Koreans have been dealing with PEDV for a few years. This strain closely aligns to one from China in 2012.

In the last 2-3 weeks, roughly a handful of herds primarily in IA but also 1 in IN has tested positive for the virus at labs in ISU and the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL). Those herds are experiencing 50-80% mortality in piglets. That’s not pretty.

PEDV is a corona virus just like TGE. And it’s spread by vectors carrying the virus around, especially by tracking mud, manure, and such from one place to another. Key point: bio-security, cleaning & disinfecting, primarily basic, sound husbandry and management practices are folks’ best defenses. TGE vaccines do not seem to provide protection.

  • There is no effect on food safety.
  • There is no effect on humans.

I’ll pass along more information as we get it. But a big point that I want to make at the outset – this isn’t a reportable disease/regulatory matter in any aspect. So it’s not a “sky is falling” scenario. But it could be devastating in farrowing operations, and times are already tough enough.

Be vigilant with C&D (that’s cleaning and disinfecting) of your vehicles and person – don’t spread it around AZ if and/or when it gets here!

A follow up question came up before I could post the above information. And I think it’s a good one. So here it is along with my response.

Is there some danger of transmitting the disease to Arizona with folks bringing pigs from other states?

Mine has been a world of probabilities since I was old enough to gauge the likelihood of my father noticing that I hadn’t done some particular chore well enough and/or by his deadline.

There was also the probability factor to consider that there would be significant personal risk involved if that initial probability proved out. (By the way the probability was usually 100% on both tests, unlike the rest of the real world.)

So to answer the question specifically, without a doubt there is “some danger”. But I can’t do much of a job quantifying that.

What I can say that’s useful, is that thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting everything leaving the premises out there (IA, IN, wherever “there” may be) goes a tremendous way to preventing bringing anything unwanted home with you. Granted, the pigs themselves may be providing the transportation.

But the probabilities are that after the pigs pass a certain age, there isn’t much area in the intestinal lining that the particular virus will be able to attach to and hang on. Therefore the older the pig, usually the less likely to be carrying something like this around.

Another factor to consider in this movement scenario: if this pig does happen to be carrying this (or any other problem that you don’t want at home), the stress (aka this pig’s natural steroid hormone levels will spike and) will likely create a situation where the cause manifests itself as a problem within a few days of the event.

So improve your odds of not spreading it to your home stock by isolating that incoming pig for a couple of weeks when you do get it home. Maybe even pull through a car wash an hour or 2 away from home and hose everything down again, including what the pig left on the trailer while in transit.

True, none of the above is all that quick and easy. But if we were interested in quick and easy, we wouldn’t be farming and ranching for a living.

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