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PEDv: There’s good news, bad news

By Staff | Jul 24, 2014

“The virus in general tends to be inactivate in periods of sunlight, dryness and hot weather.” —Dr. Rodney Baker Interim director, Iowa Pork Center

LE MARS – The number of new cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has declined within the past six weeks, Dr. Rodney Baker, interim director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center in Ames, told northwest Iowa pork producers on July 15 in Le Mars.

Baker was speaking at the first of five statewide meetings focusing on PEDv and environmental issues.

“I think there’s been a little bit of good news this summer,” Baker said, “at least number of cases we’ve been getting” has “really started to decline especially in comparison to last summer when we were still seeing the number of cases increasing.

“At the same time, the bad news is the drop may in part be because half of the sows in the United States have been infected so we’re starting to develop a good deal of national immunity.

“We do know, however, that the virus in general tends to be inactivate in periods of sunlight, dryness and hot weather in contrast to being more volatile in cold wet weather as experienced during the winter months.”

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on June 5 the federal government was mandating producers report the disease.

Baker a factor in the declining numbers may be some producers and veterinarians are reluctant to send in samples and instead proceed with a treatment and management plan.

“We just don’t know if this is the case,” he said. “When the announcement (of mandatory reporting) was first made, we didn’t see much push back from producers.

“They still wanted to know, as did veterinarians, if they had the virus because they wanted to design their management control plan around whatever disease agent was causing the high mortality, in particular for a sow producer.”

Baker cautioned that despite the lower case numbers, producers must be vigilant with biosecurity efforts within and around their operations.

“We know biosecurity works,” he said. He cited that increased measures against PEDv has resulted in a lower incidence of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome cases last winter, and “almost no cases” of transmissible gastroenteritis.

In both instances, he said, PRRS and TGE were “way down lower” than they’ve been in years.

A new PEDv vaccine has had “mixed reactions,” Baker said, but is a useful tool to counter the virus, especially on “chronic” farms unable to get their elimination procedures to work.

“It’s the first tool we have,” he said. “And, our veterinarians in the field are quick to learn to get the most out of this product we can.”

While “a great deal of argument” continues over the vaccine’s effectiveness in getting primary immunity for the pigs, Baker said, the vaccine producer, Ames-based Harrisvaccines, claims it is data available showing a response is possible.

Baker there is still no hard evidence pinpointing how the virus made its way to North America from China.

“It’s hard to do that kind of detective work” he said, “to go back to look for that one container or that one person or one whatever it was that brought that virus in here.”

Feed and feed ingredients are chief among the suspect list according to a study by the American Association of Swine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The number of new PEDv cases reported nationally by the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, now responsible for data collection from all testing labs, shows 91 positive accessions out of 777 tested at 11 diagnostic labs for the week ending July 12.

The number of states having at least one confirmed case of PEDv is 30. Of the total of 7,719 now recorded cases, Iowa continues to lead with 2,165, followed by Minnesota, with 1,283; Illinois with 838 and North Carolina with 767.

The statewide meetings were sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, which has provided $350,000 for Iowa State University research on the virus continuing to draw producer attention within Iowa and the nation.

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