Months after porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) was first confirmed in the U.S. swine population, University of Minnesota researchers have developed a PEDV rapid diagnostic test.
The first-of-its-kind test, which is available now, provides a way to quickly and cost-effectively identify the presence of U.S. PEDV strains.
Characterized by acute diarrhea and vomiting, a PEDV outbreak wipes out an average of 50% of young swine at newly affected farms. PEDV poses no risk to other animals or human health and no risk to food safety.
Should PEDV become widespread, however, the pork industry could suffer significant losses. The virus has been confirmed in 16 states so far. There is no known vaccine or treatment for the virus at this time.
For the new test, samples from animals suspected of carrying PEDV can be submitted to the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) for testing. Test results are known within 24 hours, allowing swine producers and farmers to take necessary precautions to prevent further spread of the virus. Genetic material is also extracted from the samples, which can be tested and tracked to monitor PEDV spread.
Swine fecal swabs and samples of saliva, serum and feed, as well as intestinal and lung tissues, can be tested via a multiplex assay that identifies the presence of not just PEDV but also transmissible gastroenteritis — a virus that has existed among U.S. swine populations for some time. Pairing the tests improves affordability by bringing the cost to less than $50.
In addition to development of the test, the University of Minnesota team has completed sequencing the DNA of one strain of PEDV. The sequence has been deposited into the GenBank database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information to help amplify the research potential of the PEDV genome.
Development of a bioassay to determine whether PEDV is being spread via non-genetic materials, including feedstuffs, is ongoing at the university, the announcement said. Investigations aim to both identify the presence of PEDV and determine whether it is alive and active, thus posing a risk.
The university, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Pork Producers Assn., also continues to investigate how PEDV first entered the U.S. and further ways to best limit its spread.
Funding was provided by the Minnesota Rapid Agricultural Response Fund, the National Pork Board and Zoetis.