Tests have confirmed a “devastating” virus has struck swine herds in eight states, including Iowa.
The National Pork Producers Council is committing $410,000 to research aimed at combatting the disease. 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 percent of baby pigs in a herd.
“For the individual farm that’s gotten infected, it’s quite devastating,” says Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian who is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council.
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.
“It doesn’t look like the disease has been here very long,” Hill says.
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.”
Besides Iowa, tests have confirmed the virus is present in swine herds in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Oklahoma and Colorado. There is no vaccine available for the virus today, 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. “But 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” in Iowa could kill the virus, according to Hill. Hill works for Iowa Select Farms, an Iowa Falls-based pork operation that employs over 900 people in 43 Iowa counties. Listen to an interview with Hill here.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson of the Brownfield Network; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)