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Published May 01, 2014, 09:21 AM

Oedekoven: 28 SD farms have been hit with pig virus

A disease, known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, was first detected in South Dakota in June 2013 and has now reached at least 28 farms in the state, mostly in the southeast, according to South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven.

By: Chris Mueller , Forum News Service

In recent months, Brad Greenway has worried the trucks coming and going at his farm in rural Mitchell, S.D., are carrying more than food for his pigs.

A disease, known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, was first detected in South Dakota in June 2013 and has now reached at least 28 farms in the state, mostly in the southeast, according to South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven.

Greenway has already taken steps to prevent the disease from spreading to his swine operation, including disinfecting any trucks that bring in feed and other supplies, and generally limiting the traffic allowed on the farm.

“Every day you’re concerned with whether it’s going to get into your operation,” Greenway says. “It’s very concerning. It really is.”

The disease, which is deadly to young pigs and potentially devastating to pork producers, was first detected in the U.S. in April 2013 and, as of last month, more than 5,500 cases had been confirmed in 28 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“It is here, I think, probably to stay, Oedekoven says.

Signs of the disease include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and death. Oedekoven says the mortality rate among young pigs who catch the disease, which is spread through contact with manure, is between 80 and 90 percent.

Oedekoven says the spread of the disease in South Dakota has been fairly rapid, but not as severe as in a few neighboring states, where there are many more swine operations.

“They’ve seen many, many more cases confirmed than we have in South Dakota,” he says.

Oedekoven said the state is recommending pork producers work with their private veterinarians to heighten the biosecurity of their operations and prevent the spread of the disease.

“It’s being most efficiently spread through trucks that have not been properly sanitized and people who are not careful about changing their clothes or sanitizing their boots,” he says.

There is no vaccine available for the disease, but tests have been developed to determine whether a pig has become infected, Oedekoven says.

“We don’t have any magic bullets for this disease,” he says. “We can test for it, but we don’t have a vaccine.”

The disease only affects pigs and does not pose a risk to people and is not a food safety concern, according to the USDA.

Once a facility is infected, the only option is to completely empty the barn, disinfect everything and then return the healthy pigs, Oedekoven says.

Greenway, who is also a member of the National Pork Board, says he has spoken with producers who have been affected by the disease.

“If it happens on your farm,” Greenway says. “It’s very financially devastating.”

Greenway says he is confident in the steps he and other producers have taken in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I think everything that can possibly be done is being done right now,” he says.

In April, USDA announced it would begin to require reporting of the disease, in an effort to better track its spread across the country.

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