REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture
recently made a scientific breakthrough that will help pork producers nationwide
fight against the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.
Genetic sequencing of a new PED strain conducted by the
department’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory may lead to a marketable
vaccine for swine in the near future.
“The scientists at the Ohio Department of Agriculture have
always been of the highest caliber, as this is not the first time they have
broken new scientific ground to help secure our most important industry in our
state and beyond,” said Director David Daniels. “Their tireless work in this
important accomplishment will help ease the stress on pork producers and
PED, first confirmed in the U.S. in 2013, is a virus similar
to transmissible gastroenteritis, another disease affecting pigs. The virus is
most often fatal to piglets, causing diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and high
mortality. It also sickens older hogs, though their survival rate tends to be
PED cannot spread to humans or other species and poses no
risk to food safety. However, PED remains a great concern for pork producers,
with piglet mortality totaling in the millions to date.
Led by virologist Dr. Yan Zhang, scientists worked to
complete genetic sequencing of a new PED virus that differs in a fragment of one
gene — 1,170 nucleic acids in the S1 domain of the Spike gene — encoding a
The rest of the genome sequence is identical to the
economically devastating PED virus currently circulating in the U.S. Most
important, this new virus is associated with reduced mortality in piglets, based
on the field observation, which may enhance its use as a potential vaccine.
“Pork production is very important in Ohio, contributing
more than $650 million to the state’s economy every year,” said State
Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. “Producers both in Ohio and nationwide have been
searching for ways to fight back against this virus and we see this discovery as
an important step in that fight.”
This discovery will lay the groundwork for producing a
vaccine to immunize swine against PED. In a swine herd, the vaccine would be
orally given to a sow, which would then pass on the immunization to its piglets
This may work to significantly reduce piglet death as a
result of PED and create a positive impact to overall swine health.
Ohio’s nationally-accredited laboratory, housed at and
operated by the ag department, provides regulatory testing support for disease
control programs and diagnostic laboratory services for veterinarians and
livestock and poultry producers.
For testing information, contact the lab at 614-728-6220 or
visit the website at www.ohioagriculture.gov/addl.