Pig virus cases may surge

PED monitoring | Cases of the virus slowing but there is still work to do

DES MOINES, Iowa — Hog farmers have a brief respite from the worst of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and researchers are scrambling to make it more than just a pause.

“It seems to be declining,” said Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, about summer temperatures apparently causing fewer weekly new outbreaks of PED.

“Don’t let your guard down. It’s not time to let your biosecurity down. It’s time to leverage the heat.”

Burkgren said PED outbreaks are likely to surge again in the fall and researchers hope to make hog farms better able to handle the virulent disease — which has now killed about seven million piglets — when it returns in full force.

PED, like many viruses, survives well in cold weather but is unstable in warm temperatures. Over the fall, winter and spring PED infections rose from about 100 in late May 2013 to 4,700 by the time of this year’s World Pork Expo in the first week of June.

The disease has spread across the American hog herd and into both eastern and western Canadian herds. It is actually two strains of PED, which most researchers believe came into the U.S. already separately developed, while delta coronavirus is also circulating the in U.S. herd. All three diseases appeared after March 2013.

National Pork Board vice-president for science and technology, Paul Sundberg, said researchers need to crack some remaining mysteries of PED in order to give farmers the tools to control its spread.

That includes understanding how to create and sustain immunity in sows that have been exposed to the disease.

A number of veterinary experts said solving the mystery of sow immunity is key to stopping the resurgence of the disease in barns “cleaned” of an outbreak, because outbreaks have been taking longer to end since January.

Burkgren said the virus acts mysteriously, badly affecting some barns that practice high biosecurity but being less damaging to some that have lower biosecurity.

And it will hit some sows hard but ones right behind them little. And right when it seems to have disappeared from a barn it can reappear.

“We don’t know a lot about sow immunity,” said Burkgren.

“It is a surprising virus and it just pops up.”

Sundberg said researchers hope to use the masses of information they have already compiled to unravel the remaining mysteries.

“We’ve had a lot of success,” said Sundberg.

“We’ve learned an awful lot.”

The search for the disease origin continues, with multiple veterinarians at the World Pork Expo saying solving that mystery is key to ensuring that pathway of disease is closed. However, U.S. Department of Agriculture animal health inspection head John Clifford described that as searching for a “needle in a haystack.”

  • http://denisetrafford@shaw.ca Denise

    Sounds like you may never find” the needle in the haystack” But perhaps PEDv and the diseases to follow can be stopped or limited.
    How about giving these confined,unhealthy, factory animals a new lease on life. Common sense dictates that they would be better off with some sunshine on their bodies, fresh air to breathe, room to roam and root, connection to the earth, nutritious Non GMO food and use of pharmceutical drugs ONLY as required.
    This would certainly reduce the spread of disease and cut down the creation of new pathogens.
    Quit wandering down the wrong path and ignoring the real problem.
    Remember the boy who cried out: “The emperor has no clothes.”
    Well guess what ?

    • http://n/a John Fefchak

      I agree with your comments Denise, but sometimes people need a dose of castor oil and a good kick in the derriere to get their brain and common sense
      working properly.
      No doubt,this latest virus has shook hog producers, and some may even consider doing things different.For even if the researchers can eventually get a handle on this one, there are lots more waiting to surprise and pop up.

  • richard

    It looks like dried blood plasma in the feed supply is the likely culprit for PED….. Its just a matter of time before we witness the human version….. sound familiar? Can you spell BSE?