The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) poses such a high risk to pigs that everyone involved with swine must work to prevent its spread to North Dakota, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service swine specialist David Newman.

The pork industry estimates that the PEDv has killed more than 4 million pigs in 23 states. It has been found in neighboring states and Canada, but it has not been discovered in North Dakota.

“Regardless of whether you are a youth swine exhibitor or a commercial pork producer, you equally possess the same amount of risk of spreading the disease,” Newman says. “Just one pig could compromise the livelihood of the entire North Dakota pork industry. It’s really up to you to prevent the virus from spreading.”

Newman has created a website (http://tinyurl.com/PEDVinfo) that has information about the virus and how anyone working around swine - commercial pork producers, youth exhibitors and pig transporters - can prevent it from spreading. The site also has links to information about the virus from national pork organizations, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

“It is critically important for everyone around swine to use proper biosecurity methods,” Newman says. Those methods include washing boots and clothing before and after being around swine, cleaning and disinfecting vehicles used to transport pigs, and establishing a line of separation between clean and dirty areas.

Earlier this week, the state veterinarian ordered that all swine coming into North Dakota must be accompanied by a health certificate declaring that they have not been exposed to the PEDv. This does not apply to pigs that pass through North Dakota while being transported from Canada or another state to a destination outside North Dakota. Visit http://tinyurl.com/swineimportregs for more information about the state’s swine importation requirements.

The PEDv spreads very easily through swine fecal matter and has been found in transport vehicles, processing plants and pig collection points.

The virus causes severe diarrhea, hydration and vomiting in pigs. While older pigs have a chance of surviving, the mortality rate in newborn piglets from herds not previously exposed to the PEDv is nearly 100 percent.

“The cases have been on the rise,” Newman says. “That’s the scary part about this.”

The first week of February had the highest increase in new cases, at 301, since the virus was discovered in the U.S. in April 2013.

The PEDv does not affect humans, and pork is safe to eat, Newman notes.