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U.S. Approved Vaccine to Fight Pig Virus

Update Date: Jun 18, 2014 09:33 AM EDT

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has conditionally approved a new vaccine to fight pig virus this week. According to the Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary, the vaccine could combat the virus and prevent the deaths of millions of pigs.

"I don't want to say the virus will be eradicated but I think you will see we're on the other side of this," Vilsack said reported in Reuters.

Based on the results of preliminary studies, the vaccine, created by Harrisvaccines, was successful in controlling the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). The vaccine is the first one ever to earn the department's conditional approval. It will now be sold over the counter. However, as a part of the conditional license requirement, Harrisvaccines is required to continue testing. So far, Vilsack has pledged over $26 million in funding to fight PEDv.

The vaccine will be administered to sows that would ideally build antibodies in response to the virus. The sows will then be able to transmit these antibodies to their baby piglets via milk.

"Hopefully by the end of the year we will be in a situation where we can say 'yes folks (the vaccine) works', start producing mass quantities of it so that farm producers around the world will not have to worry about this," Vilsack said.

PEDv was first identified within the states last year but the virus had circulated in Europe and Asia for decades. Last year, it killed eight million pigs, which caused pork prices to skyrocket. The virus causes diarrhea and vomiting. It is almost always fatal for newborn pigs.

PEDv only affects pigs and is not a threat to humans or other animals. In order to control a PEDv outbreak, the officials had asked farmers to report any cases of the virus. By addressing cases earlier on, the department can use biosecurity measures and maintain the virus before it spreads.

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