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Biosecurity slows spread of baby pig disease on swine farms, says MU Extension specialist

Media contact:

Jason Vance
Writer
University of Missouri Extension
Phone: 573-882-9731
Email: VanceJJ@missouri.edu

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014

Story source:

Marcia Shannon, 573-882-7859

COLUMBIA, Mo.–Missouri lags the nation in outbreaks of a baby pig disease that caused an estimated 4 to 5 million deaths in the U.S. swine herd.

So far Missouri producers report only 48 confirmed cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), according to Marcia Shannon, University of Missouri Extension swine specialist and professor of animal science in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“If you look at the grand scheme of things, 48 is good compared to some of the other states like Iowa, which has over 1,100 cases,” Shannon says. “But 48 is where we want to keep it. We don’t want any more. We are trying to get the word out and help people think more about biosecurity on their farm.”

What began as a few cases in a handful of states last May has grown to thousands of cases in 25 states. Shannon says in the past six weeks around 200 new cases were reported nationally. Cold weather could be part of the reason for the increase.

“We get a little lax in our biosecurity when it’s minus 20 outside,” she says.

Shannon says PEDV is spread mostly through vehicles, people and materials. The disease doesn’t infect humans but manure can lead to more pigs with the disease.

“Producers need to think about where their vehicles have been and wash them before going to a different farm,” Shannon says. “That includes the floorboards, which can transfer manure from one place to another on boots.”

Vaccines for PEDV are being researched, but the best biosecurity is closing swine operations to most outside visitors.

Major symptoms in baby pigs are projectile diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. Shannon says as soon as those signs appear, bring in a veterinarian.

Shannon says the majority of deaths occur in pigs less than three weeks of age. She recommends isolating any new animals for 30 days. Also, consider testing for PEDV.

For more information, see the MU Extension guide “Biosecurity for Today’s Swine Operation” (G2340), available for free download at extension.missouri.edu/p/G2340.