Confirming rumors circulated earlier this week, the USDA on Friday said it would issue a federal order to require reporting of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea and Swine Delta Coronavirus to gather more effective data and prevent further spread of the viruses in the U.S.
Through April 12, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported the total number of positive tested cases for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus and swine delta corona virus at 5,790. Vermont reported the state's first positive PEDV accession in the most recent update, reports John Otte for Farm Futures.
PEDV, which affects young piglets and causes high mortality, was first confirmed in the U.S. on May 16, 2013. It does not pose a food safety threat to humans.
"USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols, sequenced the virus and are investigating how the virus is transmitted," Vilsack said in a press statement. "Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers."
In addition to mandatory reporting, USDA will also track movements of pigs, vehicles, and other equipment leaving affected premises, however movements will still be allowed.
USDA says the tracking will involve logging affected herds into a monitoring and control program, the specifics of which will be developed in collaboration with state animal health officials, pork producers and swine veterinarians.
As part of USDA's coordinated response, USDA said its Farm Loan Programs will be working with affected producers to provide credit options, including restructuring loans.
In the case of guaranteed loans, USDA is encouraging guaranteed lenders to use all the flexibility available under existing guarantees, and to use new guarantees where appropriate to continue financing their regular customers.
Legislators earlier this month pressed Secretary Vilsack on disaster assistance for PEDV; in response, he told reporters that any assistance would not be tied to the "disaster" program, as it is reserved mainly for acts of nature.
Disease monitoring, research
USDA says it is already providing assistance to researchers through its Agricultural Research Service, which is working with the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, to make models of disease transmission and test feedstuffs.
This modeling work is contributing to some experimental vaccines to treat animals with the disease, USDA said.
In addition to ARS research, USDA also provides competitive grant funding through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program and the agency anticipates some applications on PEDv research will be submitted soon.
A question-and-answer sheet on the new reporting requirement is available for download on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.