Pork producers in Nebraska are on guard after tests confirm a “devastating” virus has struck swine herds in eight other states, including two states that border Nebraska.
The virus — known as PEDV — is not transmitted to humans and is not considered a threat to food safety, but the vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration it causes can kill up to 90% of baby pigs in a herd.
Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian, is the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. “For the individual farm that’s gotten infected, it’s quite devastating,” Dr. Hill says.
The virus has been found in much of Europe and in China, but this is the first time it has been discovered in the western hemisphere. Diagnostic labs at Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota have confirmed 103 cases of the virus.
“Unfortunately, the scope seems to be getting bigger,” Hill says. “We know there’s a lot more cases than that.”
Tests have confirmed the virus is present in swine herds in Iowa and Colorado, as well as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Oklahoma.
There is no vaccine for the virus, although Hill says a lab plans to start testing a vaccine late this summer.
“There’s some procedures that veterinarians have in place to try to get over the disease as quick as possible,” Hill says. “The big thing we need to stress is biosecurity and that biosecurity would be everything from transportation, making sure trucks are in the right flow — washing, disinfecting, drying; same with facilities; same with making sure that maintenance people and all your employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Some “good, hot days” could kill the virus, according to Hill. The National Pork Producers Council is committing $410,000 to research aimed at combatting the disease.