Veterinary scientists track the origin of a deadly emerging pig virus in the United States
Veterinary researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have helped identify the origin and possible evolution of an emerging swine virus with high mortality rates that has already spread to at least 17 states.
A team of researchers led by Dr. X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Virology, has used virus strains isolated from the ongoing outbreaks in Minnesota and Iowa to trace the likely origin of the emergent porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) to a strain from the Anhui province in China. The virus, which causes a high mortality rate in piglets, was first recognized in the United States in May of this year.
“The virus typically only affects nursery pigs and has many similarities with transmissible gastroenteritis virus of swine,” said Meng, who is a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology. “There is currently no vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in the United States. Although some vaccines are in use in Asia, we do not know whether they would work against the U.S. strains of the virus.”
The researchers determined not only that the three U.S. strains of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus are most closely related to the Chinese strains of the virus, but also that the U.S. strains likely diverged two or three years ago following an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain in China.