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Thursday, January 30, 2014

PEDv Pooping Pigs Pose Pharaonic Problems!

Those of you who have followed the Talk Clean To Me blog know I am a sucker for alliteration so you can imagine how giddy I am over what I think is the brilliance of the title for this week's blog!  Admittedly, until today I had never heard of the word Pharaonic - basically a fancy word for big, huge, enormous in size, but the excitement I had in finding a "P" word was beyond words!

The intent of the Talk Clean To Me blog is to chat about the use of disinfectants for infection prevention and while they tend to focus on healthcare, I spend a significant amount of my time working in the Animal Health world (vet offices, shelters, aquaculture, farms, etc) which also has significant and very real concerns with infections and outbreaks.  Being a lover of BBQ (pork shoulder, ribs etc) and of course bacon, that magical, delectable meat, the news that the first case in Canada of PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) had hit a farm very close to where I grew up was most concerning indeed.

PEDv is an enveloped virus from a disinfection perspective that is a member of the Coronaviridae family.  While PEDv is from the same family of viruses that was the cause of SARS in 2003 and more recently MERS, it is only infectious to pigs and is not in any way a food safety concern.  Within the swine industry, Coronaviruses are known to cause to a number of infectious diseases.  The significance of PEDv  however is the mortality rate with an average of up to 100% in suckling piglets (under the age of 7 days).  PEDv is transmitted by direct (pig-to-pig) or indirect (contaminated fomites, transport truck/trailers, footwear, clothing, farm supplies, etc) exposed to the virus. The incubation period of PEDv is thought to be as short as 22 - 36 hrs and is characterized by acute outbreaks of severe diarrhea and vomiting that can affect up to 100% of the herd if previously unexposed.  The fact that this is the first time PEDv has been found in Canada means our herds do not have any immunity to this virus.  The economic impact of PEDv will be substantial. 

In the US since the first case was identified in May 2013, more than 2000 farms in 22 states have been grappling with the virus that has caused the death of at least 1 million baby pigs.  The two farms that PEDv has been confirmed have seen almost a 100% mortality of 2 - 5 day old pigs and 15 - 20% mortality with older pigs.   If the virus was to spread beyond Ontario, PEDv could cost the Canadian pork industry an estimated $45 Million in losses. 

From a management and decontamination perspective, the expectation is that most of the commonly used disinfectants used by the swine industry for their cleaning and disinfection needs will be effective at inactivating the PEDv virus. There was a recently published study by Iowa State University that found that a commonly used powder-based disinfectant was not effective against PEDv.  The moral to this study is thorough washing, disinfecting and drying of hog trailers using traditional cleaning methods and liquid disinfectants is the way to go.   For now, the primary concern with respect to preventing further transmission to other farms is the frigid temperatures we are experiencing in Ontario - a decrease in temperature impacts the contact time for disinfectants.  They will still kill, but they will need more time to do so.  Just like in healthcare, cleaning and not cutting corners saves lives.  In this case we're talking about the lives of really cute piglets!

Bugging Off!



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