By Christina Dittmer
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDV, is a pathogen that is sweeping the U.S. swine herd, infecting pigs through oral contact with infected feces. Though it poses no threat to humans, other animals, or the human food supply, this virus is causing a renewed importance of biosecurity protocols in the swine industry with mortality rates in nursing pigs as high as 100%.
Though the first identified case of PEDV occurred in 1971 in Great Britain, the virus did not make its way to the United States until May 2013. By 1982, PEDV became endemic in Asia, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. The virus has now been identified throughout Europe, and in Korea, Japan and China.
PEDV is a virus that generally has less of an impact on the older, growing pigs that are headed to the show ring. However, the National Pork Board's PEDV Update says pathogens have a much higher risk of getting passed on when animals from different locations commingle.
No new state regulations on shows, veterinarian says
Dr. Jeff Kaisand, assistant state veterinarian for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, says the state has not made any further regulations regarding swine shows because of PEDV, but that officials are focusing on outreach and answering questions people may have about the virus.
When it comes to showing this summer, Kaisand recommends making plans for how to manage your livestock, practicing good biosecurity, and ultimately not forgetting to enjoy yourself. With or without PEDV, Kaisand stresses that going to shows and having fun is still okay, but doing so responsibly with biosecurity measures is important for each individual to follow.
Some biosecurity measures Kaisand recommends are changing clothes from the fair to the home operation, establishing a "clean and dirty line" or line of separation, and evaluating the risks to your own herd. Other possibilities might include letting the 4-Her stay with a relative or a friend during the fair, splitting up chores differently, or staying away from direct contact with other animals. These efforts can help protect your operation from pathogens that may be present at show situations.
Isolation period is recommended
At the show, be aware of the health of the animals, and contact a veterinarian if you have a concern. If you have animals coming home after the show, Kaisand says an isolation period of at least 30 days is widely recommended.
Kaisand says the biggest symptom of PEDV is diarrhea, and vomiting may accompany it as a symptom. However, he says this virus can look much like Transmissible Gastroenteritis, or TGE. If you see diarrhea in your herd, contact your veterinarian. Tests will need to be run to confirm PEDV as the cause.
Biosecurity tips for year-round control
The National Pork Board has put out information that Kaisand also suggests referencing. The Pork Board along with Jodi Sterle, Iowa State University Extension specialist, offers these tips for good biosecurity before the fair, and to incorporate permanently into your home operation:
* Bring only healthy pigs to a show. Observe them daily because the pigs will tell you a lot.
* Clean out the tack box and do it away from the barn or pigs. Remove any organic material, then wash and disinfect all equipment—pails, brushes, waterers, whips, panels, gates—even the boots you wore at the show. Use a commercial disinfectant according to label directions and allow everything to dry.
* Clean out the truck cab and trailer. Use the same basic approach -- remove organic matter, floor mats, gates, ramps -- and wash, disinfect and dry.
* Take only the feed and shavings that you will need, and leave anything not used behind. Don't bring any feed or shavings home, it's not worth the risk. To not waste feed, weigh and bag the amount of feed you will need for each day of a show, add in a couple extra servings for a safety net and that's it.
* Pigs that return home after the fair or show should go into isolation if at all possible for at least 30 days, and 60 days is best. A shed or another room in a low-traffic area is good.
* Do the chores in the isolated area last each time and wash your hands before and after. Wear disposable boots and coveralls, and put them in the trash away from other pigs. Finally, be sure no equipment crosses out of this area.
Excellent fact sheets that the pork checkoff has available include, "Swine Health Recommendations: Exhibitors of All Pigs Going to Exhibits or Sales", "Swine Health Recommendations: Organizers of Exhibitions and Sales", and "Swine Health Recommendations: Biosecurity for Organizers of Weigh-ins or Tagging Events". Other useful fact sheets, updates, research and resources on PEDV can be found on the National Pork Board website.
Christina Dittmer is a Wallaces Farmer intern.