UPDATE: USDA gives initial approval to pig virus vaccine

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email

UPDATED Wednesday, June 25, 2014 --- 2:08 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The federal government has given conditional approval to the first vaccine licensed to fight a deadly pig virus.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed millions of baby pigs since it showed up in the United States last year and is partly responsible for recent increases in pork prices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave conditional approval last week to a vaccine produced by Iowa-based Harrisvaccines. The vaccine is being used mostly to boost immunity in sows that have had the disease so they can better pass on antibodies to their young.

Company spokesman Joel Harris said Wednesday that one challenge is immunity to PED doesn't seem to last like it does with many viruses. He says it might last only a few months.

Other companies also have been working on vaccines.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Tuesday, April 29, 2014 --- 3:48 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's state veterinarian has been asked to help in the fight against a virus that has killed millions of pigs in the past year.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea causes severe diarrhea in newborn piglets, who die of dehydration. The virus is believed to have come from China and showed up in the U.S. last May.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is requiring farms to report outbreaks of PED and participate in a program to help control the disease.

Wisconsin state veterinarian, Dr. Paul McGraw, has been asked to help develop that program.

Wisconsin agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel said Tuesday in a statement that McGraw was asked to help in part because he has raised pigs himself. Brancel also says McGraw has been proactive in increasing biosecurity in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Thursday, February 13, 2014 --- 9:45 a.m.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's state veterinarian has banned spring weigh-ins for pigs competing at fairs this year and is recommending all pigs shown at fairs be sent immediately to slaughter to prevent the spread of a deadly animal virus.

The steps are aimed at preventing the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which has killed as many as 4 million pigs since it showed up in the United States last April.

La Crosse Tribune reports Wisconsin has seen six cases so far.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


UPDATED Thursday, February 13, 2014 --- 9:42 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The spread of virus that has killed millions of pigs across the country has caused Wisconsin officials to impose new restrictions on showing swine at county fairs this year.

The state veterinarian has banned the spring weigh-in for pigs that will be shown at summer fairs. Counties are also advised to that all the pigs going to the fair be sent to slaughter afterward, instead of going back to the farm.

The PEDv virus has been found in 23 states. As many as 4 million pigs have died since the virus first surfaced in April 2013.

The La Crosse Tribune reports the state veterinarian has warned that fairs and exhibitions that don't restrict swine to `terminal' events, or slaughter, could face sanctions if the virus is suspected at the show.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


Posted Wednesday, February 12, 2014

State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw placed a ban on Spring Fair pig weigh-ins due to an outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDv.

Raechelle Cline from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection's Division of Animal Health says the outbreak is a costly one.

"The disease itself has cost millions across the country," Cline said.

PEDv is a commonly fatal disease that pigs can get through the spread of their fecal matter. It can be disastrous to pig farmers, because the disease spreads quickly.

In an effort to combat the spreading of the disease, the State Veterinarian also recommends pig farmers attend only "terminal" shows -- meaning that pigs are slaughtered after the exhibit.

This prevents pigs from bringing the disease back to their home farm and infecting others.

Cline says they want they stop the transmission of the disease "as soon as they possibly can".

The good news is that the disease can not be transmitted to humans. Cline calls it a "pig-to-pig" disease.

Curt Watson owns a pig farm in Edgerton.

When I asked to interview him, he requested we do it away from his farm -- so that there was no chance I might transmit the disease to his pigs.

He takes "bio-safety", as he calls it, serious.

"I didn't let you on the farm because I didn't know where you've been," Watson explained.

His farm gives birth to about 600 piglets every year. He calls it a "mid-size" farm.

He says, overall, he supports the ban.

"It is serious, and it's something that needs to be looked at from all sides," Watson said about the disease.

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