A vaccination for porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) will not be hitting European shores in the foreseeable future, according to Andrea Ladinig of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, who was speaking at the Herning Pig Congress, Denmark.
There have been several outbreaks of the porcine virus in Europe since spring 2014, with Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium publishing their cases and other nations’ outbreaks going under the radar – it is thought particularly in Eastern Europe.
Ms Ladinig said: “We believe PEDv is spreading its way around the world via polypropylene bulk bags which carry feed.
“The virus is currently in 34 American states, thought to have come in on bags carrying jerky pet treats which are fed to the pigs. Although there are two inactivated vaccines licenced in the US, little success is being seen from their use.
“In affected herds, piglets less than seven days old will die. There is no question about it. In piglets younger than 21 days, which have had no protection from the virus via their mother, it is more than likely they will die too.
Strains of the virus vary. The American virus ‘S Indel PEDV’ has a mortality rate of 30 per cent and symptoms last six weeks.
“It is suggested if piglets survive after 10 days of infection, they are removed from the farrowing unit.
“Infection will usually be spotted by a profuse yellowish, watery diarrhoea and sows will reduce their feed intake. You will notice piglets sit on the sow’s stomach in an attempt to keep warm.
“The virus can completely destroy a batch of piglets but the next litter will have developed an immunity.
There is no evidence of the virus affecting a boar’s fertility but it is thought faecal contamination of semen could encourage the spread of the disease. Pig faeces are high risk in terms of disease spread.
Symptoms are not always as obvious as the scouring and can sometimes be mistaken for respiratory problems.
Dr Georgina Crayford, senior policy adviser at the National Pig Association, said: “In England, we are monitoring developments in vaccine licensing, but since the vaccines in the US are mainly being used to boost immunity on already infected farms, our efforts are focused primarily on keeping the disease out of the country.
“The English pig industry has a detailed contingency plan in place for the rapid detection and control of PEDv should an outbreak occur in British pigs.
“Pig producers are being encouraged to sign up to the industry’s Significant Diseases Charter – in doing so they agree to inform AHDB Pork, who coordinate the Charter, if they suspect PEDv on their unit.
“In signing the charter they also give permission for the levy board to inform neighbouring pig units which are also signed up there is a suspected (or confirmed) outbreak in their area, enabling those farms to take extra precaution such as tightening biosecurity.
“AHDB Pork is also currently funding weekly testing of diarrhoea samples sent to APHA, which enables passive surveillance for the disease.”