Prompted by the quick spread of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), Arkansas has joined the growing list of states that have implemented import regulation changes on pigs entering the state, according to Delta Farm Press.
“The new rules are an attempt to minimize the likelihood of the virus entering our borders,” says Jeremy Powell, DVM, University of Arkansas Animal Science Department associate professor and veterinarian. “Now, any pigs being brought into Arkansas must be inspected by a veterinarian followed by a health certificate. Also, there must be a statement provided by the veterinarian saying that the pigs are traveling from a site that hasn’t had a PEDV case in the last 60 days.”
The state of Arkansas must then be called and an entry permit number must be issued for the health certificate.
“So, the veterinarian has to call the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and say, ‘I’ve got 100 pigs coming on X date. I need an entry permit number.’
“Those steps will help us better track pigs coming in from other states that may have infected herds. This way we’ll know the address of where the pigs come from, the address of where the pigs are going to in Arkansas and have a better ability to stop any type of outbreak.”
Powell continues, "Unlike poultry and cattle, swine production isn’t a huge commercial industry in Arkansas. However, there are some swine operations “and they’re certainly concerned about PEDV.”
Powell notes that one of the concerns many states are facing with the threat of PEDV at this time of year is the beginning of 4-H projects. Children often pick up the piglets from breeders or sales outside of their home state and bring them home, increasing the risk of spreading the disease.
“This is a concern,” says Powell. “It’s very important everyone understands that the new rules apply to everyone -- commercial producers and 4-H’ers. Any pig being brought into the state is required to go through all the steps.”
First reported in the spring of 2013, PEDV has marched through much of the U.S. hog industry. The numbers are alarming -- some 5 million pigs in 27 states having been lost in less than a year.
Understandably, states yet to have a case of PEDv are keen to keep it that way.
“This is a fairly new virus to the United States,” Powell says. “That isn’t the case with (PEDV) in other parts of the world. It’s a coronavirus that’s been in Europe and China before. The strain affecting U.S. swine is believed to have originated in China.
“We have been testing for the virus in Arkansas. Luckily, we currently do not have any PEDV cases reported in the state. However, it is in some bordering states with the highest number of cases in Oklahoma – 300, or so, (in mid-March).”
Powell says the virus appears to be moving across the United States in a “somewhat sporadic manner. It can certainly move via animal-to-animal contact. There are questions about how easily it can move on equipment -- truck tires or feed machines. Some viruses can also move via migratory birds. So, there are still some questions about PEDv movement.”
While there are vaccinations being developed, there is yet to be a licensed vaccination for PEDV.
“Typically, under such outbreaks, vaccines are rushed to market when companies get a conditional license from the FDA,” says Powell. “That’s what happened with West Nile a decade back with horses.”
PEDV is most devastating is with young, nursing pigs. Almost all infected piglets less than two weeks of age will die.
“A coronavirus is the type that likes epithelial tissue. So, it attacks the intestinal tissue and kind of wipes out the pigs’ microvilli. That leads to diarrhea, scours, and can cause a fairly high mortality rate in nursing pigs.