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PED and Pig Feed Connection

Swine Feed Identified as a ‘Potential Vector’ for Spreading Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Amid the growing spread of the pig-killing virus, known as porcine epidemic diarrhea or PED, new information has become available which indicates that the virus may also be spread through pig feed. Until now, it was believed that the virus could only be transmitted through hog manure or from pig to pig.

On February 9, Dr. Steve Dritz from Kansas State University (KSU) posted a statement on KSU’s website.

 “The magnitude of risk that swine feed can be a potential vector for porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus transmission is currently unknown,” the notice said. “We believe that further investigation is urgently needed to define the relative risk of feed or feed ingredients for transmission of PED virus.”

Swine feed that contains porcine origin blood plasma is the concern. It’s a relatively new feed ingredient used as a protein source for early-weaned pigs. The product is produced by American Protein Corporation, which is headquartered in Ames, Iowa.

Dried plasma comes from pigs and is used as an ingredient in some pig starter, also known as creep feed. The feed is given to piglets while still on their mother (sow), or in the first days of post weaning.

With the new information about feed possibly causing the spread of PED, an Ontario feed company is taking precautions to protect its consumers. Grand Valley Fortifiers, based in Cambridge, Ont., is asking its customers to stop feeding products that contain porcine origin blood plasma.

The products include the following (sold from the date Jan. 1at 2014 forward):

  • Bionic®
  • BioForce®
  • BioPrime® nursery feeds (Phases 1 - 4)

Grand Valley Fortifiers said it is recalling all these feed products in question and will credit farmers if they’ve bought the feed products.

The company has stopped selling feeds that contain animal by-products (dried plasma), and moved to handling a new line of nursery feeds, under the brand name Natures Blend.

Since last spring, the United States has been dealing with PED, which has infected over 2,000 hog farms in 22 different states, killing millions of pigs.  Since then, it has also spread to Canada, with the first case being identified Jan. 22 on a farm in Middlesex County. There are now eleven confirmed cases in Ontario.

PED is almost 100 percent fatal for piglets, while older animals typically recover from the virus.  The virus does not pose a risk to human health, and is not a food safety concern. Pork producers are encouraged to continue and maintain strict biosecurity protocols to mitigate the spread.

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