Washington | Reuters –– In an expected move, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced new measures to combat the spread of diseases such as porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in the U.S. pig population.
While PED is not considered a reportable disease according to international standards, USDA will now require reporting of the PED virus (PEDv) and swine delta coronavirus (SDCV).
Farms with PEDv-positive cases would be required to identify themselves and provide location information, and labs receiving diagnostic samples will also be required to report positive tests and location information to USDA.
USDA will also require tracking movements of pigs, vehicles, other equipment leaving affected premises. Movements of pigs will still be allowed.
“USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols, sequenced the virus and are investigating how the virus is transmitted,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
“Today’s actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers.”
PEDv has killed more than four million young pigs since first being identified in the U.S. a year ago. The virus has so far been detected in hogs on farms in 30 states; as of April 12, it had been confirmed on 5,790 farms across the country.
In Canada, where the virus first appeared in January, PEDv has been confirmed in hogs on 52 farms in Ontario and one each in Quebec, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, and in hogs off-farm at an unnamed “high-traffic site” in western Manitoba.
The virus causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and is transmitted orally and through pig feces. While older pigs have a chance of survival, the virus kills 80 to 100 per cent of piglets that contract it.
Major meat producer Tyson Foods has said the epidemic could lower U.S. pork production by two to four per cent.
Last month Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, suspended one day’s kill at a North Carolina slaughterhouse because of a tight supply of hogs attributed to the spread of PEDv.
USDA says it continues to work with the pork industry and with state and federal partners to develop responses to PEDv and SDCV. SDCV was also confirmed last month in Ontario.
Neither PEDv nor SDCV is considered a risk to human health or to food safety.
— Ros Krasny is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Washington, D.C. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.