Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (“PED”), an unwelcome emerging virus new to the United States has been increasingly reported as the cause of large numbers of mortalities in swine herds in the U.S.  Fortunately, unlike other emerging diseases, such as West Nile Virus[1], a virus first identified in the U.S. in 1999, PED does not infect people.  Even so, its damaging impact to swine and the farmers who raise them, should not be ignored.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, a coronavirus, “typically results in acute outbreaks of severe diarrhea, vomiting, high morbidity (often 100%) and variable mortality (as high as 100% in young pigs),” when introduced into a swine herd for the first time.

Stephanie Strom from the New York Times, reported on July 4, 2014 that “PEDv, is estimated to have killed, on average, more than 100,000 piglets and young hogs each week since it first showed up in Iowa in May 2013, wreaking havoc on the pork industry.”
USDA reports that “PEDv has killed some 7 million piglets and caused tremendous hardship for many American pork producers,” in the last year.  Dr. Paul Sundberg, a well-respected swine veterinarian and vice president of the National Pork Board, described PED as a “devastatingly virulent” virus.
In response to increasing concerns about the industry’s ability to limit the spread of the disease, the USDA issued a Federal Order in June 2014, requiring the reporting of new detections of PED to its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) or to State animal health officials.  Before that, PED was not a nationally reportable disease.
The Federal Order also requires a comprehensive list of biosecurity measures that must be implemented on each reporting farm as identified in the Herd/Premises Management Plan Summary for Mitigating Novel Swine Enteric Coronavirus including:
  • Biosecurity of visitors and vehicles entering or exiting the premises;
  • Biosecurity of employees entering or exiting the premises;
  • Periodic herd health observation;
  • Livestock transport biosecurity;
  • Cleaning and disinfection of facilities;
  • Diagnostic testing to monitor status of the herd infection and assess efficacy of control strategies; and
  • Maintenance of records on pig movement.

Requiring reporting of the disease should help federal and state animal health officials, industry experts, and farmers not only track the spread of disease, but also implement strategies to limit that spread.  At the same time, research has been ramped up signficantly, and effective vaccines will hopefully soon be available to prevent the disease in susceptible herds.


[1] It is estimated that West Nile virus has killed more than 1,500 people and infected more than 50,000 Americans in the last 15 years.