Here's some advice for pork producers whose hogs haven't contracted porcine epidemic diarrhea virus yet: talk to a veterinarian.
Establishing a veterinary-client-patient relationship with their veterinarian before PEDv strikes, says University of Missouri Extension swine specialist Tim Safranski, will save time, pigs and money when signs of the disease appear.
Under a VCPR, the veterinarian assumes responsibility for diagnosing and treating the animals and producers agree to follow the veterinarian's instructions. The veterinarian must have seen the animals in the past 12 months.
Don't wait until the first signs of an outbreak. By then, it's too late, Safranski says. A plan takes several days to create, days when more pigs die.
The USDA will release its next quarterly report on pork losses due to PEDV on Friday, March 28, but recent reports show that the disease is growing in 28 states.
According to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, most of the Midwestern states are experiencing significant levels of positive occurrences. But if you live in states with fewer cases – like Montana, Texas, California and others – it's important to have a plan.
"It's time to bring a veterinarian into the conversation," Safranski says. "Be ready." And if you already have a veterinarian, make sure you have a VCPR.
A veterinarian develops an operation-specific plan based upon the animals, facilities and protocols.
The veterinarian also reviews procedures, develops an internal biosecurity plan and a plan to follow if PEDV appears.
"If you implement the plan when you get [PEDv], you will lose four weeks of production," Safranski says. "If you have to develop the plan first, it will last much longer."
It will also be valuable to have a plan to manage the sows that lose their litters; because there were no piglets nursing, they will not return to estrus schedule. That can also be managed if the farm is ready from the start.
PEDV only infects pigs, generally those three weeks or younger. The virus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. Mortality is almost always 100% in nursing pigs. PEDV is mostly transmitted through manure carried by pigs, boots, clothing and vehicles.