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Lab: 154 PEDV cases in Iowa

By Staff | Aug 16, 2013

Bill Tentinger, of Le Mars, an IPPA past president.

CHEROKEE – The current and possible future impact of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus continues a worrisome one for Iowa pork producers.

“The situation is scary for these operators who can’t afford to lose five weeks of production,” said Dave Stender, an Iowa State University Extension swine specialist, based on Cherokee.

The virus was first confirmed in the United States on May 16 through diagnostic tests at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames.

It has now been confirmed in a total of four states in addition to Iowa which, along with Oklahoma, has been hardest hit by the disease, Stender said.

It was first diagnosed in Great Britain in 1971 with later sporadic outbreaks in Europe and has, Stender said, been an endemic pig disease in Asia since 1982.

Dave Stender, an Iowa State University Extension swine specialist.

As of last week, more than 400 cases have been confirmed nationally by USDA, including some in northwest Iowa, Stender said. He emphasized for benefit of consumers that the virus poses no human health threats and is not seen as food safety issue.

Iowa presently shows a total of 154 positive testing results for PEDV as of Aug.3, the last available reportable date for the on-going report, according to the National Animal Health Network. The next highest total is 102 cases reported in Oklahoma.

Minnesota shows 39 cases reported with Kansas at 65. One case has been reported in South Dakota. The total diagnosed cases for the 16 reporting states now stands at 434.

For producers, however, he said PEDV can have “a devastating loss” on pig numbers and has been extremely difficult to track within the U.S.

“All this couldn’t have come at a worse time for pork producers,” Stender said, noting probable earlier 2012 crop losses from the drought.

“They’re still trying to make up for those losses as they’re paying 50 percent more for feed,” he said, “and hog markets have not gone up.

“They have, in many instances, a pile of debt that has to be paid off and they have no pigs to sell. Marketing plans will definitely need to be adjusted.”

The difficulty in determining actual PEDV case numbers, Stender said, is that producers don’t have to report the disease with data to this point based on submitted samples.

“When it hit, it appears to have hit all at once in scattered areas hundreds of miles apart and without a specific pattern,” Stender said, basing his comments on a survey set up by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Severity of the outbreaks including some found in growing pig sites, he said, with pigs having no immunity to the virus.

The National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council as well as USDA are also involved in the current coordinated efforts to evaluate the disease.

Stender advises producers follow recommended biosecurity practices with regard to manure management within their operation as well as the use of heat sterilization of trucks coming to and going from production sites.

The latter, he said, can mean less spread of the virus at market sites when non-diagnosed hogs are marketed.

Among uncertain questions is the virus’ impact on hog futures. Last week Chicago Mercantile Exchange futures and wholesale pork bellies soared and will likely translate to higher over-the-counter pork prices.

At one point last week, pork futures were trading for $105 per hundredweight, but those levels have backed off for August sales At $101 at the close of business Monday. According to the USDA, August futures in March were trading at $78.

Stender said the fact that the current period is “the surplus time of the year” for pork may ease any escalating costs.

He acknowledged, however, that while the possibility exists for consumers to find fewer bargains in what is the normally lower fall seasonal counter price.

He said he doesn’t expect a sudden hike in prices.

“Even with fewer pigs with corn prices down, it’s fairly easy to make up hog numbers pretty fast,” he said. “And with corn prices down this fall, I think we’ll still see plenty of pork and at a reasonable price.”

Iowa Pork Producers Association members are, meanwhile, giving their support to efforts to discover the source and method of transmission for PEDV.

Members of the association’s research committee have approved $77,000 to be paired with the $450,000 approved in late June by the National Pork Board for research purposes.

Bill Tentinger, of Le Mars, an IPPA past president, said producers are presently “all walking on pins and needles” as research and control studies continue on the virus.

“We know it’s everywhere and with lots of unknowns.”

He cited another of the pork industry’s earlier challenges, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, which cost the industry upward to $642 million annually.

Tentinger said the possibility exists that the PEDV could be “just as devastating or more so” in that some baby pigs survived the PRRS in contrast to the total wipe outs with PEDV.

Additional information on PEDV and its potential impact, as well as biosecurity information is available at ipic.iastate.edu/information/PEDVfactsheet2013.pdf).

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