Update on Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea

Strict biosecurity is best method for prevention and control of PED.

An outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) has recently been confirmed in Indiana and Iowa with suspect cases in Illinois and Colorado. This is a new virus to the United States so it is expected that there is no immunity to any swine herd. PED has been found in swine herds in Europe and Asia starting in the early 1980s.

This disease is similar to TGE (Transmissible Gastroenteritis) and causes severe watery diarrhea and vomiting in pigs. Morbidity in sows and piglets is high and mortality, especially in piglets, is high (up to 80 percent) due to dehydration. Swine herds in the United States have experienced an outbreak 12 to 36 hours once exposed to the virus. Clinically there is very little difference between TGE and PED except this virus is seen predominantly during high temperatures such as summer season.

There is neither a treatment nor vaccine available for PED so an emphasis should be made on prevention and control. PED and TGE mimic each other in clinical signs and a true diagnosis of PED will require sampling and testing. Michigan State University Extension recommends that if your herd is exposed to the virus, suckling pigs should have free access to water to help decrease dehydration and gestating sows can be exposed to the virus to help build immunity in piglets, similar to methods used with a TGE outbreak. Sanitary and quarantine measures can help to slow the spread of the virus. Introduction of new stock should also be suspended during an outbreak, along with increased internal biosecurity practices to help decrease the spread of disease within your herd. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect PED or TGE to develop testing and immune response strategies.  

PED is a production disease, affecting the growth and health of the animal; it is not zoonotic to humans. This disease is also not a food safety concern and all pork products remain safe for consumption.  PED is not a reportable disease and although this is the first time that is has been detected in the United States, it is not considered a foreign animal disease but is being labeled a transboundary disease by the USDA

The USDA is working with various state laboratories to build testing capacity to detect the PED virus.  Currently the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has the technology to run samples for and diagnose PED. Producers and veterinarians looking to submit samples to the Iowa State University Laboratory should collect samples from pigs expressing clinical signs of the disease. Fresh samples from the small intestine and colon, along with feces collections are preferred. At this time because of the limited number of labs able to run diagnostic tests for PED, turnaround time may be slow.

Although all transmission routes of PED have not been confirmed, it is suspected to be transmitted via infected pigs, transportation vessels and contaminated fomites, such as clothing, footwear and equipment. In order to help protect your herd from possible infections, review your biosecurity plans and strategies to increase biosecurity protocols. These strategies would include washing and disinfection protocols for all trucks returning from market, change of footwear, change of outerwear such as coveralls and washing hands prior to entry to the barns where pigs are housed.

If you suspect clinical signs or have questions please contact your herd veterinarian.