Veterinarian: ‘Take PED seriously and get it cleaned up’

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After a few years of limited activity, porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) — a disease that caused major devastation in the hog industry in 2013 — remained quiet in southwest Minnesota until last spring, when four sow farms in southwest Minnesota broke with the disease.

“We want producers to remember that PED is still a problem and to implement biosecurity measures…to minimize it,” reported Steve Dudley, DVM, Prairie Livestock Supply, Worthington, Minnesota.

The four sow herds that broke with PED are within 3 miles of each other. Dudley suggested these PED outbreaks were linked to a local finishing site with PED.

“That’s one of the messages we think is really important – for wean-to-finish to take PED seriously and get it cleaned up. It’s not a huge disease event for the finisher pigs, 5 to 7 days diarrhea and minimal death loss…The concern is that it spreads to area sow farms where it is a devastating economic disease,” Dudley told Pig Health Today.

Minimizing PED spread

A key to successful PED biosecurity is knowing the previous locations of trucks used to transport finishing pigs. Trucks loaded and unloaded at slaughter facilities or those handling cull sows pose an increased risk of picking up PED.

People and animal foot traffic transmits PED, especially if hogs are transported on unwashed trucks and trailers. To deter this type of transmission, Dudley recommended using a powdered disinfectant called Stalosan F.

The disinfectant may be used in an entry like a load-out area where pigs go in and out, and outside office areas where people walk into the facility. It also may be used in trailers.

The University of Minnesota has done studies showing that the disinfectant is effective against PED, Dudley added.

Mortality decreased

The clinical picture generated by the new PED infections is slightly different from earlier cases.

“Some producers didn’t have quite as high of death losses as they’ve seen in past years,” Dudley said. “I think it is some leftover immunity in their herds. Some of the older parity sows had better protection.”

Maximizing colostrum intake

Many other diseases cause diarrhea problems in baby pigs, including rotavirus, Clostridium perfringens, coccidiosis and E. coli.

“Other piglet diarrhea is always a challenge,” Dudley said. “It is important that people are doing diagnostics, taking swabs or tissues if piglets have died and to send material to the diagnostic lab.”

A strategy to fight baby pig scours is making sure piglets get their full share of colostrum because antibiotic protection only comes from colostrum.

“Good colostrum management is important,” Dudley stated. “Things that help colostrum intake is using a drying agent when piglets are born. When they come out of the sow…if they get dried, they are more likely to suckle that sow and get their maximum colostrum.”

Other strategies such as split-suckle farrowing will help smaller piglets in the litter suckle colostrum, too.

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