UK vets have welcomed news Canadian scientists are testing a prototype vaccine against the virulent porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv).

Pig and piglets
The main threat of PEDv is to young pigs, especially those in herds not previously exposed to the virus.

The virus has killed more than eight million animals in the North American swine industry over the last three years, with costs in excess of US$400 million (£600 million).

Occurring only in pigs, PEDv is a coronavirus, a virus group that includes important emerging human diseases, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome. In affected herds it has caused 100% morbidity and 50-100% mortality in suckling piglets.

Although the UK has been PEDv-free for the past 14 years, the danger is the domestic swine herd is naïve to all forms of the virus.

Up to 100% effective

Using its containment level three facility, scientists at the University of Saskatchewan Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) have developed and tested the vaccine.

VIDO-InterVac research director Volker Gerdts said: “Our new facility provided us with the containment infrastructure to develop a vaccine and demonstrate it protected up to 100% of the piglets.”

With the support of the swine industry, the vaccine is undergoing field testing in Saskatchewan, as well as in Manitoba, where it is used to help protect piglets from a PEDv outbreak.

Naïve population

Welcoming the development of a vaccine, a spokesman for the UK’s Pig Veterinary Society said: “PEDv has not been recorded in the UK since 2002 and, consequently, the pig population is believed to be largely naïve to all strains of PEDv. PEDv was made a notifiable disease in England and Scotland in response to industry desire for prompt detection of disease and information on its locations, to allow targeted measures to control disease spread, should it emerge.

“This information about a potential vaccine is welcome news; however, VIDO-InterVac has stressed this is a prototype still undergoing clinical trials at this stage.”

Vaccines against PEDv exist from Zoetis and Harrisvaccines, but some experts have expressed concerns the disease may be mutating, leading to increased global efforts to discover the next generation of medicines.

  • For more details and what to do if disease is suspected, visit http://bit.ly/1fmrL14
  • Read the full article in the 12 September edition of Veterinary Times.
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