Pig industry keeps watch for virus

The British pig industry is being extra vigilant to ensure the virulent porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) does not enter the country, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).

The industry is focusing in particular on a specialist feed ingredient for young pigs — spray-dried porcine plasma (SDPP), which tests suggest could be an ingredient capable of containing PEDv.

Specialist vets say that if PEDv arrived in Britain, it could spread quickly through the nation’s pig population, so industry organisations are urging producers to take every precaution.

Bpex, the NPA, the Pig Veterinary Society, the Agricultural Industries Confederation and British Pig Association have joined forces to keep PEDv out of the country.

Producers are being urged to communicate with feed manufacturers, nutritionists and vets to identify and immediately isolate any feed products on farms that are labelled as containing SDPP, which is banned by Red Tractor assurance.

However the NPA said it may be present in a few milk replacer and milk blend products, without producers necessarily being aware of the fact.

Bpex veterinarian Derek Armstrong said: “It is impossible to overstate the damage PEDv would cause if it arrived in Britain. The evidence from the US is that it is so outstandingly infectious that just one infected pig is all it would take to start an epidemic in this country, which could kill as much as 10% of the national herd.”

PEDv, which spread from China to the US, and then to Mexico, is harmless to humans but is killing up to 100% of piglets on affected pig farms in the US, according to the NPA.

The NPA and Bpex will publish lists of manufacturers that guarantee all their products are entirely free of SDPP on their websites.

NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said: “We are clear that we don’t want to be looking back in a few months, and wish we had been more cautious. We are all agreed in the pig sector that we should close off every avenue of risk and potential risk for the time being.”

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