News story

Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) becomes notifiable disease in England

From Friday 18 December, it is a legal requirement to notify APHA of suspect and confirmed cases of PED in pigs in England.

Image of pigs

This measure has been introduced by government following discussions between pig industry bodies and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Unlike other notifiable diseases in pigs, there is no legislative requirement for official testing, culling, movement controls or other restrictions. Controlling the disease will be industry-led.

Under the new legislation, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is legally permitted to inform the industry levy board, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Pork (AHDB Pork) of all suspect and confirmed cases. AHDB Pork will use this information for the purposes of disease control, by providing biosecurity advice to the pig unit concerned and alerting those at risk.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens said:

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.

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

In the event of an outbreak, AHDB will share information with those affected or at risk and will provide help and advice on maintaining strict biosecurity standards and other measures to control disease and reduce the risk of spread of infection.

Porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDV) is a coronavirus that infects the cells lining the small intestine of a pig, causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration. The disease is most serious in new born sucking piglets, where the strain of PEDV which causes more severe disease can result in mortality up to 100%.

PEDV is harmless to humans and other farm animals and is not a food safety risk. It is highly infectious and is mainly spread by infected pigs and anything contaminated with their infected faeces. Its spread can however be controlled if scrupulous biosecurity measures are followed.

PED remains a significant threat to British pig herds. Outbreaks of a high-impact strain of PEDV have been detected in North America, Asia and more recently the Ukraine. There have been no reports of this strain in the European Union, including the UK, but there are other strains of PEDV circulating in mainland Europe. Making PED notifiable in England will enable the pig industry to take prompt and targeted action to manage any PED outbreaks more effectively.

See the guidance on porcine epidemic diarrhoea: how to spot and report the disease.

See also the AHDB Pork’s PEDV website for further information.

Published 18 December 2015