What is PEDV?
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, or PEDV, is a virus that infects pigs. The virus was first confirmed in the United States on May 17, 2013. According to the USDA, it has now been found in 26 different states. It can cause severe diarrhea in pigs, as well as vomiting. Unfortunately, it has an almost 100% mortality rate in pre-weaned piglets, although most older pigs do recover from it.
Can It Infect Humans?
No. Only pigs can be infected by PEDV, not humans or other livestock.
How Is It Transmitted?
The basic way it is transmitted is through oral contact of contaminated feces. Not only is this a concern in the barn with the animals, but it can also spread one boots, trucks, or clothing. The best way to prevent it is for farmers to use precaution from spreading it to infected animals to those not infected. For example, a farmer that has been around infected animals has to be careful not to bring dirty clothes or boots into the area where there are healthy pigs located.
How Many Pigs are Infected?
There have been 3,000 cases of infected swine. A case is defined as one system, or herd, of pigs. A pig that has been infected will show signs 12-24 hours later. An infected pig is contagious for up to 4 weeks.
Where Did It Come From?
As mentioned, PEDV was first seen in the United States in the spring of 2013. However, in the UK it has been around since 1971, in Asia since 2000, and in China since 2005.
How Are Farmers Working to Contain It?
Obviously, this can be economically devastating to a farmer, especially when all the newborn pigs are dying shortly after birth. To prevent infection, farmers have to take bio-security measures to protect their herds. That includes keeping pigs separated, using disinfectant, and switching into clean clothes.
What Is the Industry Doing to Stop It?
The National Pork Board announced that it was dedicated an additional $650,000 to research PEDV. In addition, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association, and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Protein Producers have teamed up to also research the best ways to combat the virus.
Is It Still Safe to Eat Pork?
Yes, PEDV does not create any food safety concerns.
Will PEDV Hurt Pork Supplies?
Probably. In fact, it is already affecting meat supplies. According to the USDA’s latest numbers, we will see a decrease in pork production. According to the report released last week:
Although producers indicated intentions to increase sows farrowing in March-May and June-August 2014, the loss of piglets due to [PEDv] is expected to result in lower slaughter during the remainder of the year. Although carcass weights are forecast higher, those gains will be insufficient to offset the reduced slaughter numbers and the pork production forecast is reduced from last month.
In other words, there could be a smaller supply of pork. While it isn’t likely that the local grocery store will run out any time soon, the decrease could bump up prices.
For more information, check out the Pork Checkoff’s website about PEDV.
(Please note: My goal here is to answer some basic questions about PEDV for consumers, not provide a comprehensive guide to dealing with or preventing the spread of PEDV. If you’re a vet or a pork producer and would like to share additional information, I’d love to hear it!)