AMES, Iowa – Veterinary researchers at Iowa State Univ. in Ames have developed a new test to detect porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) antibodies.

The test, called an immunofluorescence antibody or indirect fluorescent antibody assay, allows producers and veterinarians to know if a pig has had the disease in the past, independent of whether the animal is shedding the virus. The test can detect the presence of PEDV antibodies in a blood sample.

Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, a professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at ISU, led the development of the new test. He said the recent discovery of PEDV in the United States has sparked collaboration among a wide range of personnel in the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine to help Iowa pig producers fight the disease.

“This is a new disease to the US, and when that happens, we have to either develop new tests or try to find what’s available from other parts of the world,” he said. “When those things happen, we have to have a lot of people help out. In this instance, we’ve seen great collaboration between faculty, technical staff and graduate students at Iowa State to help with our response to this virus.”

The screening costs $5.50 per sample and is available through the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Local veterinarians can request the test. PEDV is transmitted via the fecal-oral route and may appear to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea within 12 to 36 hours of onset. However, laboratory testing is the only way to diagnose PEDV.

“The new test gives practitioners and their clients a historical perspective,” said Dr. John Johnson, a clinician in veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine. “It’ll help them to understand if a particular animal has been exposed to the virus before. This tool, coupled with polymerase chain reaction results, will provide additional crucial information as veterinarians and their clientele assess the risk of moving a group of animals into a PEDV-negative population.”