Although the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has not been reported in North Dakota, the number of cases continues to grow elsewhere in the U.S.
The best line of defense against the virus, known as PED, is to use good sanitary practices to prevent it from spreading, animal health experts say.
“We cannot be too careful with biosecurity protocols in order to protect the health of our North Dakota herd,” North Dakota State University Extension Service swine specialist David Newman says.
The virus was found in the U.S. for the first time this year. PED has been confirmed on 1,373 swine operations in 19 states, including Minnesota. Two-thirds of the cases are in three states: Iowa, Oklahoma and North Carolina. It also has been reported in Hungary, Germany, China, Korea and Japan.
It only infects pigs, Newman says. The virus has no other known hosts. Nor does it affect humans or pork.
“Pork is safe to eat,” he adds.
Researchers, veterinarians and other animal health experts continue to look for ways to stop the disease from spreading. No vaccine is available for this virus in the U.S.
“There’s been a lot of research trying to figure out how it got here, a lot of research to figure out what protocols work best,” says Dale Norton, president-elect of the National Pork Board. “Right now, there’s a little difficulty in that we’ve put some protocols in place for immunity development for sows, and they’ve not always worked. And so we continue to do research on that type of stuff.”
Often the only signs of PED are acute watery diarrhea and vomiting.
PED typically is spread through the feces of infected swine or contaminated trailers, equipment, boots, clothing and hands. Everyone involved in pig handling, including hog operation employees and owners, and those transporting pigs, need to take steps to avoid spreading the virus, according to Newman.
“Sanitizing and drying or heating trailers is very effective against the PED virus, and several virucidal disinfectants have been demonstrated to inactivate the virus,” he says.
PED symptoms are very similar to those of transmissible gastroenteritis, also known as TGE, another virus that affects pigs. The only way to determine which virus has affected a pig is through testing at a veterinary diagnostic lab, Newman says.