2013 saw the arrival and rise of PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) in the United States. A virus that has already plagued many countries across the globe, the disease hit its momentum in December with the highest number of cases reported in the U.S. since the beginning of the outbreak, a peak that is continuing into the New Year. According to one industry expert, it’s now more important than ever for producers to not let their guard down. “After overcoming PRRS outbreaks and high feed prices, many producers looked to rebuild their herds, but as PEDv continued to strike, the end of the year saw a lower than expected U.S. hog herd,” said Russell Gilliam, swine business leader at Alltech. “Now more than ever, health has become one of the main focuses in the pig barn and producers are seeing the key to success in implementing a combination of biosecurity measures and nutritional health management programs.”
The virus is easily transmitted through indirect and direct fecal/oral contact, so producers have to be cautious of many mediums from animal contact to vehicles, personnel clothing and equipment. According to Gilliam, with a quick spreading disease like PEDv, you not only have to watch what is coming in but you also have to watch what is going out.
“You need to be careful of what is spreading to you and what you may be spreading downstream,” Gilliam said. “Identifying those key interactions and making sure they are as safe as possible for you and your animals is paramount.”
Utmost cleanliness is a necessity in critical interaction points. Proper cleaning with disinfectants, heat and drying is effective in killing a virus like PEDv. If the herd is infected with PEDv or other diseases, producers should work with their veterinarian to identify the best practices and procedures for their operation.
Besides implementing extra biosecurity measures, producers also need to build their herds’ health and immunity to prepare them for the worst.
“This way they can not only fight these challenges, but potentially live and perform with them,” Gilliam said. “To build immunity and disease defense, nutrition needs to cover three areas: enhancing gut development, maximizing feed digestion and reducing the effect of enteric diseases.”
Recently, new data has become available on a second-generation, purified and more bioactive fraction derived from a selected strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast using a proprietary process developed by Alltech. This natural mannan rich fraction of carbohydrate (MRF) has been shown to block unfavorable organisms from the gut. This carbohydrate supports nutrient utilization, maintains digestive function and enzyme activity, controls inflammation and reduces the gap between ideal and actual performance (Che et al., 2011; Samuel et al., 2012; Xiao et al., 2010). These mechanisms have been confirmed using nutrigenomic data.