In 2013, a new swine disease showed up in the U.S. Very quickly, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) spread across the country, killing 50–100 percent of piglets at hundreds of farms in at least 30 states, including Ohio. With funding from the National Pork Board, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientists are conducting research to answer crucial questions about and develop effective tests and vaccines against PEDv.
“Our studies show that the PEDv strains circulating in the U.S. are more aggressive than the strains from Europe,” OARDC virologist Qiuhong Wang said. “In the U.S., it doesn’t look likely that PEDv will stop mutating and that herds will become endemic and experience little mortality.”
Scientists in Wang’s and Linda Saif’s labs grew the virus in cell culture and are using this material to develop a “booster” vaccine that can protect pigs previously exposed to PEDv. The end goal is to develop a stronger vaccine that can also protect swine with zero immunity to the virus.
- PEDv has killed more than 7 million piglets in the U.S., reducing pork production and threatening to impact the availability of pork products as well as prices.
- OARDC is one of the few facilities nationwide that has been able to grow PEDv in the lab, allowing researchers to have enough virus material to develop diagnostic tests and vaccine candidates.
- Ohio State University researchers are collaborating with a large animal health company to develop PEDv vaccines.
- OARDC animal disease research is supported by its unique germ-free animal labs, where new diseases and treatments can be tested in isolation; and by its Plant and Animal Agrosecurity Research facility, the only lab in Ohio and one of only two nationally with capacity for plant and animal disease research at the BSL-3 biosafety level.
“It is increasingly important that we have a high-quality swine research capability in Ohio,” said Pat Hord, owner of Hord Livestock Company in Bucyrus, Ohio. “We, as swine producers, need this information as soon as possible to help us manage diseases such as PEDv the best we can to limit severe economic losses.”