Utrecht University to research pig virus vaccine
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[February 08, 2014]
By Meredith Davis
CHICAGO (Reuters) — Merck Animal
Health, a division of Merck & Co., entered into a 12-month research
agreement with Utrecht University to develop a vaccine for Porcine
Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), a deadly pig virus spreading across
the U.S. farm belt, the company said.
The highly contagious pig virus, which does not affect humans,
has been seen in Europe and Asia, but was first discovered in
the United States in April 2013 and has spread to 23 U.S. states
and two Canadian provinces.
"Vaccine development on PEDv has been hampered by the difficulty
of growing the virus in cell culture and, until very recently,
by the lack of tools for its genetic manipulation," Peter
Rottier, a scientist at the Netherlands' Utrecht University said
in a statement.
PEDv, which causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in
hogs, is transmitted orally and through pig feces. Strict
biosecurity measures have been hog producers' first line of
defense against the virus.
Harrisvaccines, an Ames, Iowa based animal pharmaceutical
company was one of the first U.S. companies to develop a vaccine
to fight PEDv.
While older pigs have a chance of survival,
the virus kills 80 to 100 percent of piglets that contract it.
There are no official figures on the number of U.S. pigs killed
by the virus but industry analysts estimate millions of hogs
have died and the virus could reduce the U.S. hog supplies by 2
to 4 percent.
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Vaccines have been used to fight PEDv in Asia and Europe but
those vaccines are not approved for use in the United States due
to concerns over their effectiveness, animal health officials
(Reporting by Meredith Davis;
editing by David Gregorio)
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