Tote Bags Identified as Most Likely Carrier of PEDv In U.S.

A U.S. government agency has identified what it believes is the most likely way the devastating PED virus entered the country and infected millions of pigs. The findings are both surprising and a reminder that biosecurity plans must be thorough.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service considered 17 plausible scenarios that could explain how PED and similar viruses not only entered the country, but dispersed to multiple locations and spread to pigs. After analyzing each possible root cause, what’s the most likely culprit spreading the disease that killed more than 7 million pigs in the U.S. last year?

bulk tote bag seed feedReusable tote bags. Or, as APHIS describes them, “flexible intermediate bulk containers.”

Tote bags (not the purse kind) are used to handle many bulk materials, ranging from feed ingredients to compost, and they rarely get cleaned between uses.

Follow-up testing supported APHIS’ hypothesis that PEDv could remain stable on or in a tote through the time needed to travel to the U.S. and infect pigs.

Among the 16 other scenarios, pet treats and organic soybeans were also seen as possible vectors for entry into the U.S., but the APHIS report noted it’s unlikely they would carry the virus into affected pig barns.

Spray dried porcine plasma was also considered as a source, as it was implicated in the PEDv outbreak in Ontario in early 2014, however it was ruled unlikely because there’s been no recorded imports of porcine plasma into the U.S. for the last decade and it was not identified as an ingredient in rations for the first infected herds.

You can read the “Root Cause Investigation Report” here.

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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