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article imageIndiana farm confirms re-infection by deadly pig virus

By Karen Graham     May 28, 2014 in Business
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) that has wiped out 10 percent of the nation's hog population is apparently going to be a lot harder to contain than previously thought, according to an Indiana veterinarian.
An Indiana farm has been the first to publicly confirm their hog herd has been re-infected with the PEDv that wiped out over 10 percent of the nation's pig population last year.
Matt Ackerman, whose veterinary practice is in southeastern Indiana, told Reuters the farm's owners authorized him to speak to the press on their behalf, but did not want to be identified.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), killed up to 7 million pigs and pushed pork prices to record highs after it was identified in the United States a year ago. The re-infection of swine populations with the virus is now fueling concerns the infection is going to be a lot harder to contain than farmers and veterinarians had first thought.
Authorities at both the state and federal level have assumed that once a pig is infected with the PEDv virus, immunity develops, and it should not be affected with any re-infection for at least several years. It was also noticed that farms preciously hit with the virus were not seen to suffer a second outbreak.
But a year after the first outbreaks were confirmed, re-infection at a number of farms has been confirmed, but not made public until now. These repeat outbreaks have baffled scientists, and are a real challenge in fighting a disease that is almost always fatal to piglets.
Harry Snelson, who represents the American Association of Swine Veterinarians told Reuters that nationwide, PEDv has recurred in about 30 percent of infected farms, confirming for the first time the proof of repeat infections in the nation's hog population.
Snelson said the high levels of the virus found in swine fecal material was overwhelming any natural immunity the hogs had, "It probably doesn't take a whole lot to override the level of immunity that we're getting," he said. "Obviously immunity is a key part of our being able to control the spread of the virus."
Ackerman said genetic sequencing showed the “exact same strain” of PEDv virus that hit the Indiana farm in March 2014 is the same as the one that infected the farm in March 2013. He collected samples from the farm both times.
In his telephone interview, Ackerman said he had thought the hogs would develop a natural immunity to the PEDv, because it is so similar to a disease called Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE). The TGE virus is a coronavirus and causes an acute, rapidly spreading, viral disease in swine of all ages, characterized by diarrhea and vomiting. High mortality is seen in piglets under the age of two to three weeks.
In the case of the farm reinfected with the PEDv virus, mortality has been around 30 percent for piglets born of re-infected sows, compared to near total loss during the first outbreak, said Ackerman. “Just because a farm broke with PEDv last year doesn’t mean that they are protected from re-breaking with it this year.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to prevent outbreaks, trying to protect breeding sows through the use of effective vaccines. At the general session of the World Animal Health Organization in Paris, Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford told Reuters, "It happens and it could happen again," he said talking about the secondary outbreaks of PEDv. "We need to practice good bio-security, cleaning and disinfection, all-in all-out, in order to break the cycle and prevent its re-emergence."
Without a specific vaccine for PEDv, it is expected that pork prices will continue to rise, now that re-infection of the nation's swine population has been confirmed.
More about Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, reinfection, no vaccine, repeat infection, Indiana farm
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