Directors of the National Pork Board Monday voted unanimously to invest an additional $350,000 in disease research to combat the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus that is spreading through U.S. swine herds this summer.
The funding boost is in addition to $450,000 announced in June, bringing total Checkoff dollars invested to $800,000, NPB said.
Since the virus was first identified in U.S. swine herds in mid-May, 346 cases of PEDV have been confirmed in 14 states.
"Our No. 1 priority is to contain spread of the virus with the goal of increasing the potential to eliminate the disease," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board. "Through research we just completed, we already have determined that transportation of sows and market hogs can be a major risk factor in the spread of PEDV."
PEDV is a highly transmissible disease that causes high mortality among piglets and appears with similar symptoms as Transmissible Gastroenteritis. While PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not trade-restricting, and does not affect food safety.
However, pork producers are taking precautions to avoid the spread of the disease by following strict biosecurity measures and taking note of any new information that can be used to control the virus.
"Many questions remain unanswered about PEDV, including how it entered the U.S. and the precise number of pigs that have become infected," Sundberg said. "What's important to keep in mind is that PEDV is not a human health issue but rather a pig production disease, and we know that enhanced biosecurity measures are extremely important in containing the virus."
National Pork Board President Karen Richter said the collective response to controlling PEDV has been effective, but the extra funding will help.
"Our focus on research, education and the sharing of information is exactly where we need to provide Checkoff funds," she said. "This investment will contribute to a stronger organized effort and industry."