BEIJING — The potential exists for feed and/or feed ingredients to serve as a vector for porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, though more research is urgently needed. Some feeds contain spray-dried porcine plasma, and experts are taking a closer look at this product.

Researchers have found the PED virus in swine feed but to date, they have not been able to transmit it to pigs from feed.

“The industry is going to have to look hard at the use of any animal protein in feed,” says Dr. Walter Tibbits, a nutritionist with Cape Fear Consulting Company. “We do know we’re seeing it in feed but we don’t know which ingredient it’s coming from,” he told an audience in Beijing, China today.

It is known that other diseases can be identified in feed. The June 2011 Journal of Animal Science carried a research study by H.G. Shen, S. Schalk, P.G. Halbur, J.M. Campbell, L.E. Russell and T. Opriessnig called “commercially produced spray-dried porcine plasma contains increased concentrations of porcine circovirus type 2 DNA but does not transmit porcine circovirus type 2 when fed to naïve pigs.”

 “The magnitude of risk that swine feed can be a potential vector for porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus transmission is currently unknown,” posted Dr. Steve Dritz from Kansas State University on the KSU website this month. “We believe that further investigation is urgently needed to define the relative risk of feed or feed ingredients for transmission of PED virus.”

Some companies aren’t taking any chances, however. Grand Valley Fortifiers based in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, is asking its customers to stop feeding products that contain porcine origin blood plasma. It is recalling all the feed products in question and will credit farmers if they’ve bought the feed products.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada says they are investigating reports that feed could be the means by which porcine epidemic diarrhea is spreading. PEDv has been confirmed on at least 16 farms in Ontario, one in Manitoba and one in Prince Edward Island.

During a town hall teleconference hosted by Ontario Pork recently, Dr. Kochhar says they are conducting an experiment using susceptible piglets at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg. The study involves feeding piglets either feed or only the plasma sprayed on the feed. He notes, however, that plasma is sprayed a high temperature that should kill the virus.