An Ames, IA, pharmaceutical firm is seeking broader license of its vaccine for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), according to a report by Reuters.

So far Harrisvaccines has shipped about 770,000 doses of is new vaccine that treats a deadly swine virus first detected in U.S. herds this year, which has spread to 20 states.

The vaccine, called “iPED,” was developed in August. It is one of the first U.S. companies to develop a vaccine to fight the disease.

“As soon as we heard of the confirmed cases we started developing the vaccine,” says Joel Harris, head of sales and marketing for Harrisvaccines. “The vaccine has been used in multiple states, including Iowa and North Carolina, but it is too early to know how effective the vaccine is.”

Iowa is the top U.S. hog state and North Carolina is second in pork production.

The virus – first seen in the United State this spring – is not harmful to humans but causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration in hogs and can result in death, particularly in piglets whose weak immune systems are less likely to be able to fight off the virus.

“The vaccine is predominately being used in herds that are already affected. They have either already been exposed to the virus or it is used when bringing in animals where the virus is already present,” Harris says.

The company says it is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to obtain a conditional license to more widely market and sell the vaccine. The vaccine is currently available through a veterinarian prescription basis only, Harris says.

The USDA can grant a company a conditional license for animal vaccines in special circumstances including, emergency situations or for a limited market distribution, says Lyndsay Cole, spokesperson for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“The hope is to have this conditional USDA approval as soon as possible and then it would be able to be more widely distributed. We are looking to get approved by early- to mid- 2014,” Harris says.

Vaccines have been used to fight PEDV in Asia and Europe, but those vaccines are not approved for use in the United States due to concerns over their effectiveness, animal health officials say.

According to USDA data, 1,645 U.S. premises have reported PEDV cases, since the disease was first recognized in April. Each premise could represent thousands of infected animals.

The National Pork Board has issued strict biosecurity guidelines to hog producers, live animal transporters, and manure handlers to inhibit the spread and transmission of the virus.

“Vaccines are a tool and it won't override general biosecurity practices. Biosecurity is still key,” says David Schmitt, state veterinarian in Iowa.