DES MOINES – The National Pork Board announced several new initiatives aimed at stemming the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus among US pig herds.

The US Department of Agriculture reported that PEDv has surfaced in 26 states. Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a Pork Checkoff consultant, estimates the loss of more than 5 million piglets in the past several months, with 1.3 million lost in January alone.

"This has become one of the most serious and devastating diseases our pig farmers have faced in decades," said Karen Richter, a Minnesota producer and president of the National Pork Board. "While it has absolutely no impact on food safety, it has clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers. Our No. 1 priority is to address PEDv."

The National Pork Boardapproved additional funds for PEDv research which brings the current level of Checkoff funded research to $.17 million since 2013. The new funding includes $650,000 through supplemental funding and $500,000 through a new agreement with Genome Alberta, a publicly funded not-for-profit corporation that initiates, funds, and manages genomics research and partnerships.

Collaboration with industry stakeholders in the United States and Canada is another facet of the Pork Board's strategy to combat PEDv. New partners in the fight include the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Protein Producers, which is made up of five member-companies throughout the United States and Canada.

"I am hopeful others will join our coordinated effort to specifically define risks and share information to contain the further spread of PEDV," Richter said.

New research projects include the role feed may play in the spread of PEDv and identifying ways to increase sow immunity. Additionally, Genome Alberta has committed funds to research gaps in understanding PEDv and stem its spread.