N.C. joins states with swine disease

by | Jul 3, 2013

Healthy pig on display

Strict biosecurity measures need to be in place to keep pigs, like this one, healthy.

In May, USDA announced that Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus was confirmed in a swine herd in Iowa. While this viral disease has been endemic in other parts of the world, this is the first time it has been found on U.S. soil, according to USDA. Since then, it has been found in 16 states, mostly in the Midwest. It has been confirmed on two farms in Eastern North Carolina. The virus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting in swine, which can lead to death in young pigs. It is not zoonotic, which means it cannot be spread to humans or other animal species. Most importantly, it does not create a food safety issue.

The Tar Heel State is the second-largest producer of hogs in the country, behind Iowa, with an annual crop of about 18 million head of hogs and pigs. This industry generated $2.5 billion in farm cash receipts in 2011. Needless to say, the industry and our Veterinary Division are on high alert, even though this is not a reportable disease. Veterinarians, vet techs and diagnosticians are working closely with farmers to monitor for the disease. While the disease is not fatal in adult swine, it does cause a disruption to the production schedule while the illness is brought under control.

State Veterinarian David Marshall and Commissioner Troxler encourage swine farmers to institute strict biosecurity measures to cut down risk of introducing the disease to their herds. The state veterinary diagnostic lab can provide presumptive diagnosis, but confirmation of PEDV must be sent to a federal laboratory.

As this is a production issue, not a reportable or regulated disease, hog farmers are encouraged to monitor for information coming from the N.C. Pork Council and the National Pork Board.