Killer pig disease Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) has from today, become a notifiable disease in England, making it a legal requirement for farmers to notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) of suspected cases.
The measure has been introduced by Government following discussions between pig industry bodies and Defra.
Unlike other notifiable diseases in pigs, there is no legislative requirement for official testing, culling, movement controls or other restrictions. Controlling the disease will be industry-led.
Under the new legislation, the APHA is legally permitted to inform the industry levy board, AHDB Pork of all suspect and confirmed cases.
AHDB Pork will use this information for the purposes of disease control, by providing biosecurity advice to the pig unit concerned and alerting those at risk.
It will share information with those affected or at risk and will provide help and advice on maintaining strict biosecurity standards and other measures to control disease and reduce the risk of spread of infection.
Defra said PED remained a ’significant threat’ to British pig herds.
Outbreaks of a high-impact strain of PEDV have been detected in North America, Asia and more recently the Ukraine.
Outbreaks of high-impact strains caused up to 100 percent mortality in young pigs in the United States, reducing pig production by 10 per cent in 2013-2014.
There have been no reports of this strain in the European Union, including the UK, but there are other strains of PEDV circulating in mainland Europe.
Defra Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said: We have made porcine epidemic diarrhoea a notifiable disease in consultation with the pig industry to better protect our pig herds from the high impact virus strains which have been reported affecting pigs in America, Asia and Ukraine."
By reporting all suspect cases, farmers can help identify outbreaks of the disease earlier and give pig keepers and their vets more time to take action to minimise the impact on our pig industry, he added.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) welcomed the announcement.
John Blackwell, BVA senior vice president, said: “This is a step in the right direction and a result of joined up working between the industry, the veterinary profession and policy makers.
"PED is a devastating disease and we hope these measures will be sufficient to protect animals and pig-keepers in England from future outbreaks.
"We are encouraged by current proposals to make PED notifiable in Scotland and are keen to see similar measures in place across the rest of the UK.”
Dr Mandy Nevel, president of the PVS, said the society fully supported the decision.
"Whilst we hope PED does not come into England, the legislation will facilitate rapid diagnosis, control and eradication in the event of a case occurring. We urge the rest of the UK to take similar action.”
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “The industry’s method of tackling the disease and ensuring it doesn’t spread will be to introduce a raft of biosecurity measures.
“It worked in Canada and we are confident it will work here — as long as it is identified at the earliest possible stage.”