Do feral swine play a part in spreading Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv)? That’s what scientists across Michigan and the country are rushing to figure out.
According to MLive.com, scientists are developing a new blood test to detect PEDv to determine if feral hogs are helping spread the disease. David Marks, a wildlife disease biologist at the USDA Wildlife Services office in Okemos, Mich., explained to reporters that the serum test is being used in a national pilot project. If it is found to be successful, scientists will begin to test archived blood as well.
"We keep extra serum every time we catch a feral pig, so if they do find (the disease in archived samples), then the next step would be to test in those states where the virus has been found," said Marks.
Actual testing of wild pigs in Michigan is still months away, and while biologists aren’t certain PEDv has reached feral hog herds, there is still a possibility.
"There are definitely wild pigs out there still, breeding on their own – we’ve shot pigs with fetuses, and caught piglets," Marks said. "But it's tough in the field to know. It's hard enough to find a feral pig alive, they are so secretive. It's much more complicated when we're talking about wild animal disease surveillance -- there are many unknowns."
PEDv has taken the industry by storm since it was first identified a year ago in the United States. Though it poses no health risk, the disease is almost always fatal in newborn piglets.
Reuters reports that because veterinarians are not required to alert government officials of its presence, it has been proven to be difficult to track. The USDA has discussed the option of mandatory reporting and is “currently evaluating additional options for addressing this virus." Read, “USDA considers mandatory reporting for PEDv.”
So far, 30 states have reported PEDv with confirmed cases topping 5,500. PEDv losses have been lowered recently with the latest release of the USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report, and over a six-month stretch from September 2013 to February 2014, new estimates peg losses to just under 3 million. Click here for more.