Steps taken to prevent pig virus
Published:  16 December, 2015

From Friday 18 December, porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) will become a notifiable disease. The move will mean that pig-keepers and vets will be legally obligated to inform the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) should they suspect a case of the disease.

In line with the new guides, APHA will then be obliged to inform AHDB Pork of any suspected or confirmed cases. The levy board will offer biosecurity guidelines to the concerned pig unit.

“We have made porcine epidemic diarrhoea a notifiable disease in consultation with the pig industry to better protect our pig herds from the high impact virus strains, which have been reported affecting pigs in America, Asia and Ukraine,” said Nigel Gibbens, the UK’s chief veterinary officer.

“By reporting all suspect cases farmers can help identify cases of the disease earlier and give pig keepers and their vets more time to take action to minimise the impact on our pig industry.”

Similar procedures have been taken in Canada, which have proven to be successful.
Following an informal consultation with the pig industry, the measures have been classed as “lightweight” notifiable. This means there will be no statutory movement controls, compulsory slaughter and no blocks of exports.
The legislation will come into effect after a series of industry bodies called for the measure so that an outbreak can be identified as soon as possible, while the spread can be prevented and the disease can be irradiated from the concerned unit.

“This initiative is a significant step change in partnership working between industry, Defra and the APHA to build England’s resilience to disease,” said AHDB Pork chairman Meryl Ward.

“PED is a potentially serious disease and emerging threat to our English pig industry. A unique industry led collaboration with Government led to the development of the PEDv Contigency plan to ‘identify, contain and eliminate’. The regulatory change to notifiable status is a critical part of the plan and will assist in early identification of affected premises, allowing more time to take effective actions to minimise the impact on the industry and therefore increasing the opportunity to eliminate the disease.”

She added: “Working to share resource, knowledge and build vital expertise, the partnership has developed a series of standard operating procedures, biosecurity guidance as well as raising awareness across industry of the potential threat.”

The Scottish Government is in talks to take similar actions and make PED lightweight notifiable in Scotland.