Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs and piglets. While boars and sows typically recover from the virus, PED can be deadly in 50 to 100 percent of infected piglets.(1) Currently, there is no cure for it – only strict strategies and processes that the industry has developed in an attempt to see the beginning of the end of PED.
The PED virus is an alpha coronavirus that only affects pigs. While clinical symptoms may be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea, laboratory testing is the only way to correctly diagnose PED.(2)
Origin of PED
The PED virus was first discovered in England in 1971. Since then, it has spread to other European countries, as well as China, Korea and Japan. It was recently confirmed in the United States in May 2013. The virus affecting pigs in the United States is very similar to a strain found in China.(4) Since PED does not affect food safety and cannot be transmitted to humans, it is not a trade-restricting disease. The incidence of PED in the United States has not had an impact on foreign export markets to date.
A second PED virus (named the “variant” or “INDEL” strain) has recently been confirmed in the United States. It functions similarly to the original strain, but often with less morality. Delta coronavirus has also been confirmed. PED and Delta coronavirus are different organisms, but many of the management and control strategies are similar.
The PED virus transmission occurs via the fecal-oral route. When the virus is first introduced into a herd, acute outbreaks of diarrhea in recently born piglets may occur, and as much as 100 percent of these piglets may be affected. Diarrhea can last from seven to 14 days, and piglets younger than 8 days of age are susceptible to a high mortality rate (from 50 to 100 percent of infected piglets). PED spreads more prevalently during cooler weather.
One of the characteristics of the PED virus is replication to very high levels within the animal. This is important because it directly leads to high levels of environmental contamination. During a PED outbreak, you can expect to find the virus in the barns, on equipment and even in the office.
Strict biosecurity protocols are the best way to prevent the PED virus from entering a farm or from spreading on a farm.
PED impact in the United States
While the PED virus has infected more than 10 percent of U.S. sow herds in most states(5) to date, it does not pose a threat to humans or food safety. For more information on PED prevalence and statistics, visit the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) website.
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