This year has been just what the pork industry needed. After losing an incredible number of animals to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) in 2013 and early 2014, many anticipated the 2014-2015 winter to bring a resurgence of cases. Instead, the number of cases slowed to a trickle thanks in part to the industry’s incredible biosecurity efforts as well as measures to protect operations.
Looking ahead to the 2015-2016 winter season, what will the outbreak do? According to the Daily Livestock Report, compiled by Steve Meyer and Len Steiner, two factors could determine if we see a repeat of last winter or return to the high number of cases seen dwindling during the 2013-2014 winter:
- Sow immunity: “Producers and their veterinarians know that [immunity levels] will be lower due to both the natural tendency for antibody levels to decline after exposure to a virus and the fact that a good number of the sows that went through the large number of 2013-2014 breaks have now been culled,” Meyer and Steiner explained. While many systems continue to exposure replacement gilts to PEDv prior to entering the sow herd, Meyer and Steiner doubt this practice alone will be enough to duplicate the PEDv-combatting abilities seen in the national sow herd after the first winter of PEDv cases.
- Management: As time passed, producers and veterinarians have learned better methods to control PEDv by keeping it on farms when it surfaces and keeping it away from PEDv-free operations. Though effective, even this method has its drawbacks. “It’s a Catch-22 situation,” Meyer and Steiner noted. “Intense management is needed to prevent the virus from becoming a problem, but without the virus as a problem, can managers ratchet up the intensity of prevention efforts?”
Time will tell what this winter holds, but in the meantime, don’t let your guards down. The National Pork Board suggests remaining vigilant and assuming every site, vehicle, feed truck, piece of equipment and other objects are risks. Read more here.