Be especially careful with biosecurity when transporting pigs.
Be especially careful with biosecurity when transporting pigs.

The “Precision Pig of the Future” must have a high health status, and that will be difficult to achieve as long as U.S. producers are dealing with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) Harrisvaccines, headquartered in Ames, Iowa, has developed a vaccine to control PEDv. According to a news release from Reuters, the company recently shipped about 770,000 doses of the new vaccine, called “iPED,” to treat the virus, which has been identified in 20 states as of publication.

According to Joel Harris, Harrisvaccines' head of sales and marketing, the vaccine has been used in multiple states, including Iowa and North Carolina. He says it is too early to know how effective the vaccine will be.

Vaccines for PEDv are available in Europe and Asia, but they have not proven to be as effective as needed. The virus isn’t a problem in Europe at the present time but is still impacting herds in Asia. This is the first vaccine developed for PEDv in the United States.

PEDv is similar to transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), but producers and veterinarians refer to PEDv as “TGE on steroids.” In its acute form, it kills virtually all pigs less than 10 days old due to diarrhea and dehydration. Older pigs become ill and it causes anorexia, diarrhea and vomiting in sows. The virus, which was first seen in the United States this spring, has spread throughout the Midwest and in other pork-producing states, including Oklahoma and North Carolina.

“The vaccine is predominately being used in herds that are already affected,” stated Harris in the Reuters release. “They have either already been exposed to the virus or it is used when bringing in animals where the virus is already present.”

The company said it is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to obtain a conditional license to more widely market and sell the vaccine. The vaccine is currently available through a veterinarian prescription basis only, Harris said.

The USDA can grant a company a conditional license for animal vaccines in special circumstances including, emergency situations or for a limited market distribution, said Lyndsay Cole in the news release. Cole is a spokesperson for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Harrisvaccines hopes to have conditional USDA approval by early to mid-2014.

As of Dec. 15, 2013, 1,764 U.S. premises have reported PEDv cases since the disease was first recognized in April. Each premise could represent thousands of infected animals.

While an efficacious vaccine will be an asset, it is only one facet of protection. Strict biosecurity guidelines to producers, live animal transporters, and manure handlers to inhibit the spread and transmission of the virus are also important (see sidebar).

Editor’s Note: As noted, some material for this article came from a Reuters news release, written by Meredith Davis in Chicago and edited by Bob Burgdorfer.

Biosecurity Measures are Critical

While a vaccine for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) would be a useful tool, it is still important for producers to ramp-up biosecurity practices. The American Association of Swine Practitioners (AASV) suggests the following protocols.

Pay particular attention to anything or anyone sourced internationally. Be especially diligent about personnel and visitors but also consider supplies, feed ingredients, food items, etc. that might be of international origin. If you are unsure about the origin of a particular product, or the components of a product, contact the supplier and request information on the origin of their ingredients or components.

Additional biosecurity recommendations should include:

  • Limit traffic (people and equipment) onto the farm
  • Clean and disinfect anything coming onto the farm
  •  Enforce downtime requirements and maintain a log of visitors
  • Take care when disposing of dead stock particularly if using a communal disposal method
  • Isolate new animals to the herd and make sure your veterinarian communicates with the herd of origin’s veterinarian about animal health
  •  Shower into the facility where practical and change into clean boots and coveralls

If you suspect PEDV, contact your veterinarian immediately so he or she can diagnostic lab to determine what samples to submit to a diagnostic lab and how they should be submitted. Contact information for the veterinary diagnostic labs can be found on the AASV website.