Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus has already killed as estimated 8 million pigs since it was first identified in April 2013, and as the weather shifts from summer to autumn, the disease will likely return with vengeance.
Increased biosecurity protocols and the judicious use of disinfectants are methods known to help control virus spread. Now, three companies are making strides in developing vaccines and probiotics to help producers combat the fast-moving disease:
- Harrisvaccines: In June, the USDA extended a conditional license for the company’s PEDv vaccine, making it the first to be licensed in the country. Approximately 2 million doses of the vaccine, called “iPED,” had been prescribed by veterinarians as of June 16; however, it is unclear how effective the vaccine will be against PEDv in cold weather.
- Zoetis: CEO Juan Ramon Alaix told analysts in a quarterly earning conference call the company is also seeking a conditional license before the end of the year for its PEDv vaccine. The license would allow the company to sell the vaccine directly to hog farmers while it conducts further tests. “There will be some limitations in terms of promotional activities, but not limitations in terms of selling the product to the market," Alaix said.
- LifeStock: Pork producers in Iowa and Illinois turned to an unlikely source to combat PEDv – FullBucket’s Foal Probiotic. The company, better known for its line of equine and canine products, responded by researching and developing a complete system for piglets and sows. Managing partner Robo Hendrickson explained that “LifeStock products don't cure PED but they do provide stability to newborns and give them a fighting chance.”
Vaccines have been used to fight PEDv in Asia and Europe, but these vaccines are not approved for use in the United States on concerns of their effectiveness.
Even with vaccines, it is likely piglet death losses from PEDv will only rise. Dale Polson, a senior veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., explained to Reuters that between July 2014 and July 2015, another 2.5 million pigs could die.
"Vaccines can serve a purpose of boosting existing immunity," he said. "The degree to which they're capable of doing so is a bit of a black box." Read, “PEDv poised to kill another 2.5 million pigs.”
Efforts also are being made to study the disease and how it may have first entered the country. At the World Pork Expo in June, the USDA announced $26.2 million in funding to combat PEDv and Porcine Deltacoronavirus and issued a Federal order requiring the reporting of the new detection of these viruses.