Earlier this month, I visited a sow unit that was about 10 days into a PED virus outbreak.
While I was there to examine ventilation settings and GDU options, it was hard not to have a discussion with the employees about the virus outbreak. The most common question that all of the employees asked – when do we start keeping pigs alive?
When these extreme outbreaks hit a production unit not it is very tough on the employees. They are hired and rewarded based on their skills at keeping pigs alive. It really bothers them when you have to say based on current information there are not a lot of good options available to save piglets born in the first 1-3 weeks of a PED outbreak.
Once feedback of the virus has been done to all females in the unit it still takes 2-3 weeks for the sows to have immunity to transfer to suckling piglets. Until this immunity develops those pigs that are born have almost no chance of survival given the extreme pathogenesis of the virus and the ability of the virus to survive outside of the pig.
While the sow unit was shower-in/out, I have stepped up my biosecurity for all sites I am now visiting. I now routinely put on disposable boots at a site before my shoes touch the ground at the site. I don’t want my shoes/boots to be the transfer point for the virus to a production site. When I get back into my truck I remove the disposables before my feet enter the truck – I don’t want to end up with my truck being contaminated and a potential source of recurring infection for sites I routinely visit.