Iowa is the nation’s top pork producer and the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed more than six-million piglets nationwide since 2013. The virus likely originated in China, but no one has determined how it got to the U.S.
A new study simulates the trip pig feed ingredients make on the way from production in China to an American hog farm. Lead author Scott Dee says the PED virus survived on one-third of the tested ingredients after a 37-day experimental journey.
“It’s not the container that these things are traveling in,” Dee says. “It’s potentially the ingredient or the contents of the container that allows the virus to survive.”
An earlier study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested fabric shipping totes were inadvertently offering the virus a free ride. Dee says he’s shown imported ingredients may have brought the virus here from China.
Dee says, “Contaminated feed ingredients, if they’re the right ones, could have certainly supported virus survival throughout this entire 37-day trip.”
Dee’s research also showed two treatments successfully killed PED in contaminated ingredients. He says he hopes the findings will lead to more research on animal diseases that have not yet arrived here from other continents.
Dee is director of research at Pipestone Veterinary Services in Pipestone, Minnesota.
Thanks to Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio