CHICAGO (Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the first vaccine that can be sold directly to farmers to help fight a virus that has wiped out an estimated 10 percent of U.S. pigs, it said.
The USDA said preliminary studies of the vaccine developed by Harrisvaccines have been promising in controlling porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which has killed up to eight million pigs and pushed pork prices to record highs since it was first identified in the United States last year.
However, veterinarians said that farmers who administer the vaccine will still need to keep strict biosecurity practices to protect their herds because PED is particularly virulent.
Before this approval, the vaccine was available only by prescription. Several companies are in the early stages of developing vaccines for PED, but Harrisvaccines’ product is the first to win USDA conditional approval.
That means it can be sold over the counter but the company must continue to test its effectiveness.