This week I participated in the Leman Swine Health Conference sponsored by the University of Minnesota. The obvious topic of discussion in the hallway and even for some of the sessions was the PED virus and its impact on the US production system.
The diagnostic laboratories have made rapid progress on tools to help us understand the disease. However, the methods of transmission between sites is still not known in many cases.
One obvious method of transmission that has been confirmed is the unloading areas of slaughter plants. A Pork Board sponsored study this summer demonstrated the likely hood of a trailer entering the plant with a negative status for detection of the virus in the manure on the floor of the trailer becoming positive during the unloading process.
With that in mind, many production systems and producers have begun thinking about the consequences of this virus as cold weather approaches. Will it be like TGE and have an even higher survival rate in December? If yes, what does that mean for the viral loads at slaughter plants, the viral loads at truck washes, etc?
The consequences of PED virus in finishers is mixed. The available evidence suggests that bigger pigs survive the dehydration associated with the scouring relatively well, although daily gain is depressed until the gut recovers its ability to absorb nutrients efficiently. As one presenter said – PED virus can’t be confused with a growth promotant.
Many production systems are using the concerns about the spread of the virus this winter to upgrade their on-site biosecurity. Even if the PED virus makes it past the newly implemented protocols, the upgrade in biosecurity for most sites is still of value. For too many years too many producers have gone to the local elevator, the convenience store and their production facilities with the same foot ware and risked the health of their pigs from other diseases they tracked in.
Yes, we are at risk of the PED virus overwhelming us this winter, but that shouldn’t prevent us from putting in place biosecurity steps to reduce the risk of not only this disease, but others that could have just as devastating an impact on an individual facility basis.