In the wake of millions of pig deaths nationwide from the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PED), Dr. Paul McGraw, Wisconsin’s state veterinarian is joining forces with a select small group of colleagues from across the nation to provide input to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on methods to confront the disease.

“Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the USDA will require PED virus and other swine enteric coronaviruses to be reported, but exactly what this means for producers and the details of the process are yet to be determined,” said McGraw.

McGraw will join a handful of colleagues from other states to review the specifics of the program, which may include the development of herd management plans and funding for surveillance along with required reporting.

“Dr. McGraw has owned and raised pigs himself, so his personal experience and professional expertise combined will be valuable to the USDA as they implement the new federal reporting order,” said Secretary Ben Brancel of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.  “Dr. McGraw has also taken a proactive approach in trying to control the disease in Wisconsin by educating pork producers in our state on how they can enhance biosecurity efforts and protect their herds.”

Wisconsin currently has only 14 positive premises as of Friday, April 25. PED has killed more than 6 million young pigs since first being identified in the United States a year ago. More than 4,000 outbreaks have been seen in at least 30 U.S. states as well as Canada.  It is now reported to have reached Mexico.

The proposed USDA program has an initial start-up budget of $5 million.  The swine industry has already developed informational materials and tools to help producers control the disease and to minimize its spread.

“We have all been working together since the disease was first found in the U.S., so this working group simply formalizes and broadens our ability to deal with this virus,” McGraw says.  The development and implementation of working group recommendations will take time, so producers should continue to practice effective biosecurity as a precautionary measure.

The virus causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and is transmitted orally and through pig feces. While older pigs have a chance of survival, the virus kills 80 to 100 percent of piglets that contract it.