In less than three weeks since the positive identification of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) in the United States, the National Pork Board approved $450,000 to help speed research into finding answers to this new disease threat facing the domestic pork industry. This amount, coupled with funds just approved by the Iowa Pork Producers Association's research committee, brings the current total devoted to PEDV research to $527,000 from the two producer-based organizations.
"The National Pork Board took this action to help get answers to U.S. producers as quickly as possible to help protect their herds from this devastating disease," said Conley Nelson, National Pork Board president and producer from Algona, Iowa. "Because of the investment producers make as part of Checkoff, we're able to respond quickly to sudden disease threats such as this."
According to Dr. Paul Sundberg, the Pork Checkoff's vice president of science and technology, PEDV is not a new virus outside of the United States nor a regulatory/reportable disease, but rather a production-related disease that hits young pigs under three weeks of age particularly hard. In the handful of states that have seen the disease, mortality rates have been high in pigs of this age, while older pigs that may get the virus typically recover.
"Since PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not a trade-restricting disease," Sundberg said. "While PEDV may appear clinically to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea, producers who suspect their herd may be infected should work with their herd veterinarian immediately if any TGE-like symptoms appear. And, as always, they should maintain strict biosecurity protocols."
The objectives of the Pork Board's swine health committee, which will oversee the PEDV research, will be to get real answers about the spread and transmission of the disease, along with measures to detect, diagnose, prevent and control it. To help facilitate this, Sundberg said that the committee and Pork Checkoff's science and technology team will work closely with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Producers Council and state pork associations.
"As with all of our research, we want it to be transparent and objective," Conley said. "And in this case, it must be very specific with quick turnaround times so that we can get answers quickly."