PED virus still a threat for hogs this fair season

The summer weather has succeeded in slowing the devastating spread of PED virus, but it has not been stopped.

‘We are still seeing some outbreaks and re-breaks. This virus is so much different than the TGE virus,” said Tony Forshey, Ohio’s State Veterinarian. “It is a coronavirus on steroids, really. We have lost over 8 million pigs across the country and will probably lose another estimated 2.5 million this summer. Then we go into winter again and we will probably have another rough round of it then.”

Progress is being made, but it has been slow.

“Hank Harris in Iowa has developed an intramuscular vaccine. We have no idea how it is going to work and people are using it. I signed papers last week so it can be used in Ohio,” Forshey said. “Ideally, what I think we need is a modified oral vaccine to stimulate the gut and we are still a year away from that. Dr. Andy Bowman at OSU is going to about 40 fairs this year and getting samples for some of his research work and that is very helpful data for us. We just hope we have healthy animals all fair season.”

With the challenges of PED virus and other disease issues in mind, hog exhibitors need to use extra caution this fair season.

“They need to understand the method of spread which is fecal-oral. So any time they are exposed to pigs or anyone else that has had contact with pigs, they are potentially exposed to that virus,” said Todd Price, an Ohio veterinarian and hog producer. “It can be transferred by somebody that works on a farm that has it and it can be carried on their boots to a convenience store and then another person can come in and pick it up and carry it home to their hog barns. This spreads extremely easily.”

Exhibitors need to understand the clinical signs of PED virus in their show pigs.

“The rough part for 4-Hers is that they are working with fairly mature animals that may just get diarrhea for three or four days and that might be it. They may not see it and unknowingly transfer it somewhere else,” he said. “But if you get it in in a sow farm, we are talking about throwing out all of the pigs under 10 days old for three or four weeks.”

In the case of terminal shows, there is less potential for problems with the animals transferring PED virus to other animals.

“If the show is terminal, most shows are short enough that they won’t have to worry about the animals, but they really want to make sure they do not go back into their home facility for 72 hours after they are done with that show,” Price said. “They need to segregate labor doing chores and going to the shows. They should put their clothes from the show in a thick garbage bag and wash them as soon as they get home. Disinfect everything from the show. At the show, use general cleanliness and don’t let your pigs mix with other pigs when possible.”

In situations where pigs are brought home after the show, other precautions should be taken.

“When you bring pigs home, you need an isolation place for those pigs to keep them from any stock at home,” he said. “They need to be off site for at least three weeks. That will go a long ways to prevent problems. It is best, though, if they don’t take anything back home.”

Here are some more PED virus facts from the National Pork Board:

  • PED virus is similar to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), another disease only affecting pigs. It is not zoonotic, so therefore it poses no risk to other animals or humans. Also, it poses no risk to food safety.
  • PED virus is not new as it was first recognized in England in 1971. Since then, the disease has been identified in a number of European countries, and more recently in China, Korea and Japan.
  • USDA, State Animal Health Officials, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and veterinarians at the National Pork Board are actively monitoring this disease and will make recommendations to producers as necessary.
  • PED virus is transmitted via the fecal-oral route and may appear to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea within 12 to 36 hours of onset.
  • Laboratory testing is the only way to diagnose PED virus.
  • As always, producers who see any signs of illness in their pigs should notify their herd veterinarian immediately to address the issue.

PED virus does not affect pork safety. Pork remains completely safe to eat.

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