USDA ends swine coronavirus data collection

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Department of Agriculture officials have stopped requiring reports when pigs become infected with enteric coronaviruses.

Since June 2014, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service had required reports on swine herds confirmed to have pigs infected or reinfected with porcine epidemic diarrhea, porcine deltacoronavirus, or any other novel coronaviruses. Agency officials collected 3,900 reports of PED infections and 600 of porcine deltacoronavirus infections before removing the reporting requirement March 6.

PED emerged in U.S. herds in April 2013. It had spread to 30 states and killed about 7 million neonatal pigs when APHIS implemented the reporting requirements in June 2014. A report published in March by the USDA showed that the number of new infections has risen every winter and bottomed out every summer, but those spikes have been smaller in each of the past three years.

The agency also confirmed the U.S. presence of porcine deltacoronavirus in February 2014. That virus tends to cause milder clinical signs and fewer deaths.

The agency began requiring reports from herd owners, herd managers, veterinarians, or diagnostic laboratories to gain basic disease information, according to the federal order. An increasing number of infections, eroding confidence among stakeholders, and discovery of the second coronavirus showed the harm caused by the absence of such information.

The order also required, for herds with infected pigs, management plans that addressed biosecurity, observation, cleaning, disinfection, diagnostic testing, and record keeping.

Dr. Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said infection data reported weekly from APHIS tended to arrive too slowly to be useful. The swine industry supported rescinding the order, he said.

Dr. Burkgren said the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Program at the University of Minnesota continues collecting and reporting PED data.