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For Immediate Release

February 10, 2014
Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock

Porcine Epidemic Virus (PED) Found in Montana

Test results have confirmed Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PED) at a swine production facility in Montana.

“Add Montana to the list of states hit by the virus,” said state veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski after receiving laboratory confirmation over the weekend.

PED – which poses no threat to human health, food safety or other livestock – causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and can have mortality rates of up to 100 percent in suckling pigs. It was first found in the U.S. less than a year ago (April 2013) but has already spread to 24 states, with more than 2,100 separate positive cases reported.

Zaluski said that suckling pig losses at the affected operations have been “significant.”

The department is working with the producer, attending veterinarians and the Montana Pork Producers Council to contain the outbreak to the premises.

PED is highly contagious, Zaluski said, stressing the “absolute need” for stringent biosecurity measures.

“It’s fecal-oral transmission,” Zaluski said, “and sound biosecurity practices can dramatically reduce the potential for outbreaks.”

Those biosecurity measures include:

  • Limiting traffic (people and equipment) onto the farm;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting anything coming onto the farm;
  • Establishing designated routes and parking areas for service vehicles;
  • Isolating newly arriving animals and knowing the health status of the source; Having dedicated clothing and footwear for animal contact areas.

Transportation vehicles are considered the most likely means of spreading the virus.

So far, the disease had killed about a million piglets in the U.S., the world’s leading exporter of pork; one agricultural economist last week said it could ultimately kill as many as 5 million pigs, or about 4.5 percent of the pigs sent to slaughter last year.

The disease was first discovered in England in 1971, and is common throughout Europe and Asia.

Producers who suspect PED should contact the Montana Department of Livestock and their local veterinarian for a diagnosis and collection of samples if necessary.