PORCINE epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is estimated to have already killed 5 million pigs, and top U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say they're doing all they can to help alleviate the impact as well as search for a vaccine.
During a recent House appropriations subcommittee hearing with top USDA research officials, Agricultural Research Service administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young said there is currently no effective vaccine for the deadly virus.
She said an important component will be how to impart immunity on older hogs since PEDV has the worst impact on piglets from zero to three weeks old.
In an interview last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added, "We are very much working with the industry and working with land-grant universities in a variety of different ways."
Vilsack said beyond identifying best management practices, USDA is making available "whatever is needed for the private sector to begin developing vaccines."
He said it is known that PEDV is fast spreading, "so we want to get on top of the science of this as quickly as we possibly can."
Unfortunately, Vilsack said, the disaster assistance programs being put into place under the 2014 farm bill don't really cover producer losses from PEDV.
He said there may be some protection under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees & Farm-Raised Fish Program, "but there's only $20 million in that pot, so that's really not a very satisfactory way of dealing with this."
Vilsack added that USDA will continue to look for ways — via disaster loans or working with Farm Service Agency staff — to be as responsive and as sensitive as possible to aid producers dealing with PEDV.