In this file:


·         'Big bags' used in bulk transport may have carried pig virus to US

·         USDA: Virus that killed millions of US pigs likely arrived on worldwide shipping bags

·         USDA: PED virus that struck US similar to China strain

·         PEDV Answers Raise More Questions

·         Seneca Valley virus emerging issue for U.S. swine industry



'Big bags' used in bulk transport may have carried pig virus to US


By Daniel Enoch, Agri-Pulse

Sep 30, 2015


WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2015 - The viruses that appeared in the U.S. in the spring of 2013 and killed millions of piglets may have entered the country in so-called Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers, essentially very big bags used to transport sand for flood control, soybeans and all kinds of bulk material, according to a USDA report.


The report, by the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), says evidence collected in its investigation suggests that the FIBCs could be potentially contaminated in their origin country and then reused after arrival in the U.S. The bags are designed for reuse and are not usually cleaned or disinfected between use in the U.S.


“If a contaminated FIBC was used to transport bulk feed or ingredients to the swine feed mill networks, a small bit of contaminated material could have been mixed into feed destined for many locations and spread the virus onto farms,” APHIS said in a release. Follow-up testing supports the hypothesis that the pathogens could easily remain stable through the time needed to travel to the U.S. and infect pigs, the agency said.


The first cases of the Swine Enteric Coronavirus Disease (SECD) were confirmed in the U.S. in the spring of 2013. The viruses, including the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), quickly spread to swine farms throughout the country, killing millions of animals, including more than 7 million piglets. Hogs usually recovered from the gastrointestinal distress and dehydration caused by the viruses, which were most often fatal to pre-weaned piglets.


APHIS said it examined 17 potential “root cause” scenarios, including accidental or intentional introduction by people, contaminated feed supplements, and contaminated semen or germ plasm. The investigation did not uncover definite proof of any route of entry, the agency said, but a small number of scenarios were deemed plausible.


Among these, “the scenario that best fit the criteria for virus entry into the U.S. was virus spread through reuse” of FIBCs. Click here to see the entire 53-page report...


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USDA: Virus that killed millions of US pigs likely arrived on worldwide shipping bags


By DAVID PITT, Associated Press

via Star Tribune (MN) - September 30, 2015


DES MOINES, Iowa — A virus that killed more than 8 million baby pigs in 2013 and 2014 nearly matches the DNA of a virus found in China and was likely carried into the United States on reusable tote bags used in international trade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Wednesday.


A special investigation began last summer into the possible sources of the virus, known as porcine epidemic diarrhea. Nearly 10 percent of the nation's hog population was lost, severely reducing the supply of pork and sending bacon and pork chop prices to new records last year. The industry has worked to rebuild herds since then.


How the virus spread remains unknown, but many scenarios of how it arrived in the U.S. and spread were considered, including intentional infection, accident transmission by visitors from abroad and transmission of the virus via pet treats made in China. Investigators determined that the tote bags called Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers "best fit the criteria established for entry into the United States, rapid and wide spread across the country, and introduction onto individual farms," according to Wednesday's report.


The woven, plastic fiber bags designed to ship between 1,000 pounds and 3,000 pounds were reused — making cross-contamination a possibility — and often not cleaned, the report said. Tests on the virus determined it could survive for several weeks within the protective weave of the bags.


Investigators said it is plausible the bags were contaminated with fertilizer, compost or wastewater from a farm before being shipped to the U.S.


Feed mills in the U.S. receive products and transport feed in the tote bags, allowing for potential cross-contamination. Some veterinarians working with farmers on the pig virus believed the feed supply may have been involved. The USDA recommended companies not reuse the bags or develop a way to sanitize them. The report points out that animal feed product handling policies have since changed.


Pork producers said they appreciated the effort to identify the cause of the disease, but remain uneasy that the USDA report was not definitive. The virus was believed to have first surfaced in April 2013 in Ohio and spread quickly to dozens of states, with the hardest hit being Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and North Carolina.


"The investigation, however, was inconclusive, so a pathway is still open for the entry of other diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease," National Pork Producers Council spokesman Dave Warner said...





USDA: PED virus that struck US similar to China strain


BY Associated Press

via KTIC - October 1, 2015


Federal agriculture officials say the virus that killed more than 8 million baby pigs in 2013 and 2014 likely came into the United States on reusable tote bags used in international trade.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture also said Wednesday that the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus closely matched one found in China in 2012.


The virus killed nearly 10 percent of the nation’s hog population, reducing pork supplies and causing record prices last year.


Investigators determined the woven, plastic-fiber bags were the most logical source of entry into the country...





PEDV Answers Raise More Questions


The Pig Site

01 October 2015


US - This will be the third winter since the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) first found its way into the US swine herd. Thanks to a collaborative effort to help combat this costly disease, the pork industry is warily optimistic that the worst is past. However, questions remain.


“Little was known about PEDV before it was identified in US swine herds,” said Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health information and research for the Pork Checkoff.


“And what we did know, much of that was from the late 1970s and early 1980s in Europe. In recent years, outbreaks in Asia shed some light on clinical signs and symptoms in animals.”


Today, the pork production sector has many more answers about PEDV than it did in May 2013, but more solutions are still needed. Answers about how PEDV entered the United States remain elusive, but there is a clearer understanding of how the virus is transmitted between farms and the importance of biosecurity, Becton said.


“We have learned a lot about herd immunity and vaccination,” said Harry Snelson, DVM, communications director for the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).


“We have discovered that sanitation is critical during transport and at swine concentration points, such as buying stations and packing plants.”


Of course, PEDV has provided a harsh lesson by showing how susceptible the US pork industry is to the introduction of exotic pathogens and how the domestic production system allows for transmission between farms.


“Production losses from PEDV are bad enough,” Becton said.


“But if the outbreak had been Foot-and-Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever or African Swine Fever, the fallout would have been multiple times worse.”


“PEDV has highlighted the need to understand the source of on-farm inputs and their potential to carry and transmit pathogens,” Snelson said...





Seneca Valley virus emerging issue for U.S. swine industry


By BEV BERENS, Michigan Correspondent, Farm World Online



EAST LANSING, Mich. — Five exhibition and one commercial herds in Iowa have been diagnosed with Seneca Valley virus (SVV), and at least two more states have reported outbreaks in the last five years.


Clinical symptoms of the disease in market or breeding animals include vesicular lesions on the snout and mouth area and lesions on the coronary band where hoof meets skin. These symptoms are shared with foot-and-mouth disease and vesicular stomatitis, both of which are considered by the USDA as Foreign Animal Diseases (FADs), and trigger an investigation.


While SVV is not considered an FAD, the symptom similarities require the disease to be reported to a state veterinarian’s office at this time. Dr. Chris Rademacher, in swine production medicine with Iowa State University extension, said, "The most significant sign of Seneca Valley disease is acute lameness in a high number of pigs."


In neonatal piglets, the herd will go from normal to epidemic mortality overnight, said Dr. Daniel Linhares, ISU professor in swine production medicine. "The mortality will return to whatever is normal for the farm in seven to 10 days," he said.


The virus was first identified during the 1980s. Recent outbreaks in Brazil spread quickly from farm to farm and mortality rates among 1- to 4-day-old piglets were as high as 80 percent, with most farms experiencing 30-50 percent mortality. Brazil, Canada and the United States each have identified slightly different strains of the same disease.


During the past five years, an unidentified group of diagnostic labs tested more than 1,000 oral fluid samples from hogs, resulting in numerous positive readings, according to Dr. Madonna Benjamin, DVM, MS, Michigan State University assistant professor and extension swine veterinarian.


"The American Assoc. of Swine Veter-inarians considers the virus as an emerging swine production disease," she said. "There is no known vaccine and we don’t know how it is spread. Although the production impacts at this time appear minimal, SVV can cause acute lameness."


An outbreak of the disease could cause disruptions in trade and pork product exports due to its similarities to significant FADs. Rademacher said, "It is important to stay vigilant and follow the call procedures to state veterinarians."


He added a serious FAD could easily be misdiagnosed as SVV...