Arrival of PEDV Creates an All Hands on Deck Approach

It’s been with us less than a month, and it’s become the talk of the swine industry; Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV. NC State Veterinarian Dr. Barrett Slenning explains the disease:

“It’s what’s called a corona virus, one of about 24 species within that grouping. It first appeared within the United States in mid-May in Iowa, and looking back we think it first showed up maybe a month earlier. We had our first case here at the end of June, beginning of July.”

The virus is most devastating in piglets resulting in a high mortality rate. Adults seem to be able to recover. Slenning puts the impact to the swine industry into perspective:

“Any time you have a farm that looses a high number of its young, it can be devastating for that farm. Overall, for the industry, I think its important to keep some things in perspective; probably less than half of one percent of pig farms in the country have been infected. So, while it is of a concern, it is still very, very small to us. In North Carolina we have I know of two, maybe three infected farms, there maybe a couple more, but again, it is a very small level of outbreak. So, for the individual farm, it can be very, very difficult, for the entire industry, with the response that we’re seeing, I doubt it will have a huge effect.”

There have been two farms in the eastern part of North Carolina infected with PEDV, but Slenning says the similarities stop there:

“The first two farms that were infected have, as far as I know, no connection. They are at different stages of production, they do not share anything. So, we really don’t know how they both got infected.”

To contain the virus Slenning says it’s all hands on deck:

“There is a large response, going from the state and federal governemtn throught the different pig farming associations, and then into academia, like us here at the university here. At the university level we are working through Extension, through animal science and through the veterinary work to help educate farmers to help improving our ability to diagnose and to predict where and why this disease is spreading. The pig associations are doing the same thing, as well as providing funding to support those, and then at the national and state level they are also going through education systems, promoting better practices and helping with diagnostics.”

The one bright spot is that unlike swine flu and some other viral illnesses in pigs, there seems to be no affects on human health:

“The disease has been in existence for more than 40 years in Europe and more than 25 years in Asia, and there are no reports from either of those areas of their being any human health concern either through direct contact or through food.”

Dr. Barrett Slenning, NC State Veterinarian. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.