University of Saskatchewan develops vaccine for PED

It has taken Saskatchewan veterinary researchers less than a year to develop, test and prototype a vaccine for PEDv, a devastating hog disease that has killed more than eight million pigs and cost pork producers $400 million worldwide.

PEDv hit the United States in 2013 and spread to Canada in 2014. It was first discovered in Europe, and has become increasingly problematic in Asian countries. Occurring only in pigs, PEDv can kill up to 100 per cent of infected piglets. PEDv is a coronavirus, a virus group which includes important emerging human diseases such as SARS and MERS.

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Using its new containment Level 3 facility, the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) quickly launched a vaccine development project.

“Our new facility, InterVac, provided us with the containment infrastructure to develop a vaccine and demonstrate it protected up to 100 per cent of the piglets,” said Volker Gerdts, VIDO-InterVac’s research director.

With the support of the swine industry, the vaccine is now undergoing field testing in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where it is being used to help protect piglets from a recent PEDv outbreak.

Industry organizations representing pork producers say the new vaccine is a very positive development.

“This is great news for the swine industry both in Canada and globally, as PEDv continues to threaten unaffected regions and impact areas where it is already present,” said Sask Pork general manager Neil Ketilson.

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