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PEDV still taking major toll on US sow farms

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Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is still around and can lead to major losses for pork producers, cautioned Gene Nemechek, DVM, technical services veterinarian, Zoetis.

In North Carolina, Nemechek’s home state, some producers who thought their animals were protected against PEDV last winter were surprised to be hit with the disease, which spread from farm to farm and caused heavy losses, he said.

In finishers, PEDV will cause production losses but mortality is low. The real toll occurs on sow farms, where there can be 3 to 5 weeks of suckling-pig losses, he said.

“It’s a very hardy virus. It’s doesn’t die off real easily in cold weather…it doesn’t take a lot of virus particles to get it started back up” in susceptible pigs, Nemechek told Pig Health Today.

Biosecurity — including a focus on preventing PEDV exposure on transportation trucks — is probably the most important step that can be taken to minimize the spread of the virus from site to site.

It’s also important to avoid bringing in gilts naïve to PEDV. Vaccination of the sow herd and gilts may be helpful, especially on farms close to other farms with PEDV, he said, but added there’s still more to learn about the best PEDV vaccination protocols.

Eliminating PEDV from farms requires a combination of biosecurity measures including herd closure, sanitizing after an outbreak and exposure of sows to live PEDV via feedback — an effective and quick way to help build sow immunity. This three-pronged approach was learned from experience with transmissible gastroenteritis — and it’s usually successful, Nemechek said.

 


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