More than 700,000 doses of a newly released vaccine to curb Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus have been distributed in several states, says a spokesman for the vaccine manufacturer, Harrisvaccines.
The footprint of PEDv, which causes symptoms similar to transmissible gastroenteritis and results in high piglet mortality, has been growing. Twenty states have reported the presence of PEDv since its initial discovery in May. The number of cases has ballooned to more than 1,500.
Ames, Iowa-based Harrisvaccines told the Ames Tribune that the new vaccine is designed for sows, and includes neutralizing antibodies that protect the sow against the virus. This approach can in turn protect piglets.
Harrisvaccines is now in the process receive USDA approval to sell the vaccine commercially. It is currently available through veterinary prescriptions only, the Tribute reports.
The virus is now taking its toll on the national hog herd. USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam noted that the USDA's latest Hog and Pigs outlook, released Friday, is beginning to show PEDv impacts.
"Historically the pigs per litter is either unchanged or up slightly [in the fall quarter] whereas this year we are down fairly sharply between the two [summer and fall] quarters, which would indicate that the rate of expansion in pigs per litter was significantly tempered, likely by the virus," Shagam said.
Bob Thaler, professor and swine specialist at South Dakota State University, points out that the virus can result in 100% piglet mortality and thus, a five-week lull in pigflow because there aren't enough pigs to wean.
However, Thaler says pigs in the early nursery phase don’t experience the high deathloss, but PEDv does cause severe diarrhea, "so many pigs are stunted and nursery performance suffers," he says.
Prevention remains vital
Thaler notes that while the virus can be extremely transmissible, it is currently not an airborne threat, and does not affect humans. However, it is very easily transmitted by manure.
"PED is an extremely infective virus and it only takes a minute amount to cause an outbreak," Thaler wrote in a SDSU update. "PED can live in manure slurry up to 14 days at room temperature, but (more than) 28 days in cold slurry, he says. It can also live in feed up to 1 week.
PEDv is most likely to appear at many commingling places, like packing plants and transfer trailers. While it's advisable to clean trucks and trailers after hauling pigs to market, Thaler says any water that splashes up on the truck, tires, or boots during the cleaning process at a truck wash probably has manure in it. He recommends that after cleaning your rig a truck wash, it needs to be sprayed with a disinfectant and allowed to dry at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
Convenience stores, though not the first place that comes to mind as a commingling location, are also PED hot spots, Thaler says.
"In study in Iowa, the floors of over 50 different convenience stores were swabbed and all tested positive for the PED virus. If a person goes into the store for coffee and a roll after selling a load of hogs, they risk picking up the PED virus on their shoes, which then could infect their whole herd at home," he notes.
So, he offers a bit of advice for hog haulers: "Consider by-passing the convenience stores if you plan on returning to the unit when you get home, or at least make sure you change shoes before going back into the operation."