Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Alert

It's hard to escape the news surrounding the recent surge in outbreaks of the PED virus - especially since cases have shown up on our side of the border. In light of this, our on-staff Naturopathic Doctor has put together a brief rundown of the things she thinks you need to know...

What Is It?
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) is a gastrointestinal virus, with symptoms mimicking those of transmissible gastroenteritis, causing diarrhea, vomiting and eventually severe dehydration. The virus is fatal in pigs, and millions of piglets have already been killed in the states due to the PEDv, with more new cases popping up in Ontario over the last two weeks. It is highly contagious and capable of remaining in the environment for weeks, making it difficult to prevent spread. Vaccines have been developed and are currently being used in the United States, with Canada beginning to follow suit. Contact your local veterinarian for more information.


CFIA spokesman Guy Gravelle said the agency has received multiple inquires about the vaccine from veterinarians in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. The three provinces are the largest pig producers in Canada.
Although the vaccine is its infancy and undergoing further field testing, the CFIA decided to issue emergency permits based on the manufacturer’s preliminary findings and because the virus emerging presence in Canada.“The vaccine will only be allowed to be used under close veterinarian supervision,” Mr. Gravelle noted. “The vaccine would be administered to pigs in sow barns, as a precautionary measure, to build resistance, in case the sites become exposed to PED virus in the future.”
Where did it come from?
The virus was first found in Europe and more recently has been effecting parts of Asia. However, in May of 2013 it surfaced in the US with most recent cases being confirmed in Canada.
The virus is transferred via manure-to-mouth contact. It has been asked that truckers wash and dry their transport trucks after containing anything that could be related to the virus, and that farmers or anyone in contact with a hog barn, shower after being in contact (as a precautionary measure). 

What you need to know:
First off, humans can breathe a sigh of relief, in that PEDv is not considered a zoonotic virus, meaning it can’t be transferred to other animals, nor humans. The National Pork Board (yes, this board does exist!) goes on to say that PEDv actually does not even pose a risk to food safety. Theoretically we could eat pork that had been infected and there would be no negative impact to our health.
PEDv is considered a ‘production related disease’, meaning the virus is fatal to pigs and will decrease pork supply (and therefore increase pork prices) significantly, especially if it continues to spread.

Naturopathic Perspective
There really is no need to take preventative measures, as currently there is no reason to believe that PEDv poses any risk to human health. That being said, if individuals are looking to boost their antiviral intake, simply adding more antiviral foods/spices to their food, in the form of garlic and ginger is one easy way. If you are looking for a supplement; elderberry, astragalus, and echinacea, along with minerals like zinc, have all been shown to have effective antiviral properties.

A side note on the vaccine being issued: Seeing as there have been no long-term studies on the vaccine to date, which was recently issued emergency permits, despite the fact that there is still ongoing field testing being conducted, consumers may feel more comfortable using caution when buying and ingesting pork in which the vaccine has been used.  

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