Biosecurity vital in combating swine virus in N.D.
Implementing strict biosecurity procedures is as important as ever, now that North Dakota has its first case of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), North Dakota State University Extension Service swine specialist David Newman says.
The PEDv has killed more than 4 million U.S. pigs since it was discovered in the country in April 2013. The first North Dakota case was confirmed in a swine herd in the eastern part of the state this week.
“For producers impacted by the virus, it can mean serious economic losses, as well as the psychological damage of dealing with the production losses associated with PEDv,” Newman says. “Farms impacted by PEDv can see high mortality rates in piglets for three to five weeks, typically.”
The virus causes severe diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting in pigs. Mortality in older groups of swine is very low, although these groups will display symptoms of the virus. However, young piglets lose the ability to absorb nutrients, so the mortality rate in piglets from herds not previously exposed to the PEDv is nearly 100 percent.
The PEDv spreads very easily through swine fecal matter and has been found in transport vehicles, processing plants and pig collection points.
Biosecurity involves making sure the swine barn is clean and virus-free, and establishing a line of separation between the clean area (the barn) and the dirty area (anywhere outside the barn). It also includes washing boots and clothing before and after being around swine, and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles used to transport pigs.
“The best method for swine barn employees to prevent bringing the virus into a farm is to shower into and out of the facility each time they enter,” Newman says. “This is a routine procedure in modern swine production and creates a good barrier.”
A simpler way to maintain that separation is to have everyone sit on a bench between the clean and dirty areas and remove his or her boots or shoes before entering the barn, then put on clean boots once in the barn, according to Jennifer Young, NDSU swine research technician. Workers and visitors must make sure their feet do not come in contact with the ground in the dirty area before putting on clean boots.
An alternative to changing into clean boots is to have people put on plastic boots over their street footwear, Young says.
NDSU has a website (http://tinyurl.com/PEDVinfo) with information about the virus and how anyone working around swine – commercial pork producers, youth exhibitors and pig transporters – can prevent it from spreading. That includes a video describing biosecurity measures.
The site also has links to information about the virus from national pork organizations, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and North Dakota Department of Agriculture.
Neil Dyer, director of the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, is urging swine producers who suspect the PEDv is in their herd to contact the lab at (701) 231-8307.
The lab can diagnose the PEDv in dead piglets, intestinal samples or feces using a variety of tests. However, the best and quickest test is known as PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, a molecular assay specifically for the virus, Dyer says.
“The best sample for the lab is one that comes from a recently dead, untreated piglet,” he adds. “Work with your veterinarian to assist you in this process.”
Newman stresses that the PEDv is not a human food safety issue; it is an animal health issue that only affects pigs.
For more information about the virus, contact Newman at (701) 231-7366 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or state veterinarian Susan Keller at (701) 328-2655 or email@example.com.