02 February 2015 | Online since 2003



UK pig producers urged to review defences against disease


BPEX has urged pig producers to review biosecurity to protect their herds against devastating diseases, including African Swine Fever (ASF) and Procine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PRED) virus.

PED causes vomiting and diarrhoea especially in nursing piglets, with up to 100% mortality in that age group being reported.

The virus spreads by direct pig contact or indirect exposure through fomites (i.e. objects or substances capable of carrying infectious organisms) which are contaminated with faecal material which contains virus.

A positive case of PED has been confirmed in Canada and was diagnosed in the US in May 2013. It has since spread to 23 states. It is not a food safety issue and it poses no risk to other species, although it is considered a serious health threat to the Canadian industry.

Canadian pork industry stakeholders have worked together to develop contingency plans and to prevent its spread across the border.

ASF has just been confirmed in wild boar within the EU, in Lithuania.

ASF is a particular risk to UK pig producers because it can be carried via affected pig meat products and there is a considerable number of pig farm workers who travel to and from eastern Europe. To alert staff to this risk, producers can order 'Don’t bring it home' posters.

"Key points for good biosecurity include: the isolation of pigs on arrival to the unit, limiting access to vehicles and people, thorough cleaning and disinfection of livestock lorries and arranging an offsite collection point for deadstock collection vehicles. Producers should always ensure that pigs have no access to meat products or products which may have come into contact with meats," BPEX said.

A major outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea in the US is causing losses of 50 to 100% of affected piglets. It has been reported on 200 units in 13 states since May.

It also appears to be spreading. In China more than a million piglets have died in an outbreak which started in October 2010. The virus from the outbreak in the US is said to be 99.4% similar to that from China.

The Chinese outbreak, where the virus has been endemic since 1973 and where vaccination has been widely practiced, suggests that were the new strains from China and/or the US to be introduced to the UK there is a significant risk that the impact of the disease could be severe with mortality rates in piglets of up to 50% to 100%.


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