A significant diseases charter has been launched by BPEX to tackle challenges such as porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv).

The new charter will help professionals across the pig industry.

It has been produced as part of the contingency plan drawn up by the Pig Health and Welfare Council.

The aim is for producers to sign up voluntarily to share information quickly in the event of an outbreak, which will, in turn, make the control of disease faster and more effective.

It is an extension of the original swine dysentery producer charter, which was launched in 2009, when producers, vets and the wider industry recognised the serious financial implications that would result from an uncontrolled outbreak of swine dysentery (SD).

The industry committed to a charter agreeing to share information with other charter members should their farm become infected and to take precautions to minimise the spread of infection. Initially, only PEDv will be added to the report, but with the reporting framework in place, it could be used to include other emerging and exotic diseases.

BPEX veterinary team manager Martin Smith said: “As with SD, the success of the charter relies totally on the voluntary commitment from producers and their vets to raise the alarm should they experience a disease breakdown.

“The early detection and reporting of these potentially costly diseases would enable rapid response measures to be put in place to restrict their spread for the benefit of the whole of the British pig industry.”

Notifiable diseases such as African swine fever virus, classical swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease are not included in this charter as all producers and vets are legally required to report any suspicion to the Animal and Plant Health Agency in the first instance.

For the charter work, producers will be encouraged to sign up online. Previous members of the SD charter will need to sign up again, as the significant diseases charter will now replace the original version and can be accessed via the BPEX Pig Hub.

The charter will be coordinated by the control centre set up within BPEX using existing staff resources. It will act as the reporting centre, gathering information on the disease breakdown and then report specified details (as agreed by producer members) to other charter members.

The control centre will also support the efforts to control the disease with information on prevention, treatment and elimination. Farm vets have responsibility for reporting suspect PEDv, or confirmed SD, to the control centre, but they can only do this if they and the producer are signed up via Pig Hub as a charter member.

Early access to this essential information will enable:

  • voluntary movement restrictions to be put in place immediately
  • expert industry assistance in containing, controlling and eliminating the infection
  • the risk of spread to be greatly reduced
  • movement tracings and further testing to be implemented immediately
  • local and national producers to increase their biosecurity measures
  • local and national producers to be extra vigilant, looking for signs in their own stock

All of this helps protect the British pig industry.

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