Monday, September 5, 2016

Vaccines aren't just for humans Pt.1- A new vaccine for a serious pig disease

A cute baby pig. Credit: Brittney
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus is a debilitating viral disease of pigs that can cause the death of infected piglets. It can spread rapidly within a population and as the name suggests, it causes severe diarrhea. Many fear that this disease will increase the cost of pork products more than it already has. In the 1990's, an inactivated vaccine was developed in China that limited the spread of this disease. However, in 2010, outbreaks began occurring again making some believe that the vaccine was no longer working. Then the virus spread to the US in 2013 and Canada in 2014. Further work found that the vaccine strains were divergent from the currently circulating strains and may not offer full protection with the possibility of shedding wild-type virus after challenge. Because of this, many researchers started working on this debilitating disease that cost farmers over $400 million in the US alone and cost the lives of many infected pigs. 

However, there is good news now. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a new vaccine that is based on currently circulating PEDV strains and field trials have begun. Hopefully, this new vaccine is successful and the devastating loss and suffering of infected pigs can be stopped.

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