Home Audio As temperatures fall, deadly swine virus concerns rise

As temperatures fall, deadly swine virus concerns rise

PERRY, Iowa – Cold weather is renewing concerns of a resurgence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the swine herd.

Last year, the winter brought an unfortunate problem for the American swine herd: a virus that most notably began killing young piglets before they had a chance to be counted in the average number of pigs per litter.

Throughout the summer of 2013, some cases began cropping up, but it wasn’t until the fall that case numbers began ramping up, then skyrocketing in the December through February period.

All of those piglets lost to the virus over the winter played heavily into the higher prices you may have paid for pork at the meat counter this year.

Now Reuters reports Hawaii has confirmed its first outbreak of PEDv; The Hawaii Department of Agriculture confirmed the virus on an Oahu farm in late November. Twenty-five percent of the 150 pigs on the farm died, and state officials are unsure of how PEDv arrived on their shores, though are currently testing animal feed from the infected farm to try to determine whether it may have transmitted the virus.

American Association of Swine Veterinarians Executive Director Dr. Tom Burkgren says PEDv survives better in colder weather, and while there is a concern of a resurgence this winter, Burkgren points out it’s not quite the same case as last year.

“So what we’re kind of doing right now is holding our breath, waiting for this winter,” says Burkgren. “[Trying to] see if we see the same thing, but we have a much different scenario as far as the number of sows that were not infected last year. What we had so far was a naive herd that had not been exposed. Our hope is with immune sows, they’ll protect their piglets and we won’t see that big spike in cases. But on the other hand we still have about 50 percent of the sows in the United States that have not been exposed to the virus, and it’s those sows that certainly could get the virus and then transmit to others.”

Burkgren says the biosecurity measures producers should take to protect their herds in cold weather are the same as biosecurity measures throughout the rest of the year.

“Anything equipment or trailer-wise should be washed, disinfected and allowed to dry,” says Burkgren. “Certainly, in bringing pigs onto your farm, you want to know the status of those pigs, if they’ve been previously exposed; what the current health status is. So it’s really all designed to exclude the virus from your farm.”

PEDv affects young piglets, and is not a threat to human health.

To hear more about PEDv concerns this winter, click the audio player above this story.