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PED to become notifiable disease in England from Friday

Pig disease PED, which has caused devastating losses in parts of the world, will become a ’lightweight notifiable’ disease on Friday, bringing a strong focus on biosecurity if the disease reaches England.

Pig farmers have been reminded Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) will become a notifiable disease in England from this Friday, December 18,

 

Pig-keepers and vets will be legally required to inform the Animal and Plant Health Agency of any suspicion of the disease, which has caused huge losses in parts of the world and is currently present in Europe.

 

The measure has been introduced by the Government at the request of pig industry bodies, including the National Pig Association, which described the measure as ‘lightweight’ notifiable.

 

This is because unlike with other notifiable diseases there will be no statutory movement controls, no compulsory slaughter and no blocks on exports.

 

If a test for PED proves positive, Government action will be limited to informing industry, so tracings can be carried out and improved biosecurity measures put in place.

 

This is similar to the consensual Canadian approach to combating the disease, which has proved effective.

 

Under the new legislation in England, APHA will be legally permitted to inform AHDB Pork in confidence of suspect and confirmed cases.

 

AHDB Pork will then provide biosecurity guidance to the pig unit concerned and carry out tracings and alert at-risk contacts as necessary. There will be no requirement to slaughter affected animals.

Significant threat

PED remains a significant threat to British pig-keepers, according to NPA.

 

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.

 

The disease has since spread to Ukraine and, even with milder European Union strains, piglet mortality as high as 70 percent has been reported.

 

PED was made lightweight notifiable following an informal consultation process with the pig industry.

 

NPA and others called for the measure so that any outbreak can be identified as quickly as possible, spread can be prevented, and the disease can then be eliminated from the unit concerned.

 

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.”

 

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on making PED similarly lightweight notifiable in Scotland.

 

 

About PED

  • PED, which is harmless to humans, is a coronavirus that infects the cells lining the small intestine of a pig, causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration.
  • The disease is most serious in new-born suckling piglets where it can cause high levels of mortality.
  • In older pigs, it often leads to loss of production.
  • The main source of PED is infected faeces.
  • It can be spread by pigs, people, vehicles, equipment, contaminated bedding, feed and waste, and animal vectors, including rodents, birds, foxes, flies, pets and other farm livestock.
  • The tiniest amount of infected pig faeces — a thimbleful is often quoted — can be a source of infection for other pigs.
  • Spread can only be controlled by introducing scrupulous biosecurity measures.
  • Diarrhoea spreads rapidly in a group of pigs over a few days.
  • The diarrhoea tends to be watery. In older pigs, it is transient and they recover.
  • The disease can affect any age of pig but typically causes 30-100 percent mortality in young piglets. Sometimes pigs also show reduced appetite and lethargy and may vomit.

 

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