Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a very devastating disease. The response plan for each farm should be designed by the veterinary health adviser who is familiar with the operation. In my opinion, there is not just one standard operating procedure for all farms. However, I believe there are some procedures that will reduce the impact of the disease on every farm.

First of all, intense internal and external biosecurity should be practiced by all farms to try to prevent the introduction of the disease. Close evaluation of ALL risks to the farm must be done on an ongoing basis. While it is generally known and accepted that the disease is directly spread by “chunks,” and fecal-oral contact, though the research has not confirmed it — yet — I believe that PEDV can be spread by wind. In the last two months, I have seen two sow farms get infected that were one-quarter to three-quarters of a mile away from large, recently infected, wean-to-finish sites. The sow farms had many farrowing rooms, and a lot of gestating sows showing clinical signs overnight. High winds and blowing snow and dirt were visible in the area.

While it is possible that contaminated corn (outdoor piles) was involved when that corn was fed, not all farms that are served by the same mill became clinical.

 

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Secondly, it is imperative that everyone involved in the swine industry become good “students,” as this disease has been in the country for less than one year. Sharing of information continues to be helpful for producers and veterinarians.

Now, for my observations and comments about this disease:

■ If the disease is suspected, get material to a lab to confirm the diagnosis.

■ Prepare the staff for the necessity of the intense exposure program, the ensuing devastation, and the necessity of sanitation requirements never seen before on the farm.

■ If positive, wean ALL pigs over 5 days of age and get them off the farm.

■ Immediately start intense feedback to all animals on the farm, including gilts in isolation or the gilt development unit. Use diarrhea material or intestines from infected pigs to do the exposure.

■ Record every animal that is off feed, vomiting or showing diarrhea. 

■ Cut feed to 2 lb./head/day or less, as the sick animals won’t eat for a few days.

■ Walk the gestation area several times a day to observe all animals for signs of illness.

■ Abort sows that are 102-112 days pregnant, and then put them on Matrix to control their cycle so they can be bred back in a timely manner. Aborting sows creates a “gap” where NO pigs are born. This disease causes infected piglets to shed BILLIONS of virus particles. Getting this amount of virus removed from farrowing areas is difficult if farrowing continues daily.

■ Intensely clean farrowing areas, then disinfect and DRY them. I recommend using Knipco heaters to get rooms to 120 degrees F for two hours — then re-disinfect and “cook” again!! Hallways need to be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily. Washing sows coming to farrowing is not practical in many cases, but keep crates scraped often and rinse area down with bleach water.

■ STOP inducing sows to farrow. NO pig movement.

■ Clean and disinfect ENTIRE office, workroom, etc., and maintain those areas as CLEAN. This virus is easy to track around inside a unit.  Intense sanitation MUST be maintained continuously.

From the initial outbreak in the U.S. in April to the present, many farms have experienced ongoing disease or “re-breaks.” It is my opinion that these “re-breaks” are nothing more than extensions of the original break.  Pigs exhibit disease because their dam has low maternal antibody, the pigs received inadequate or variable colostrum intake OR the environment is still highly contaminated, which overcomes any antibody level the pig has received.

Remember, this disease is NOT Transmissible gastroenteritis. It is easily spread and tracked around within a farm (and beyond). Intense sanitation and absolute biosecurity.