WASHINGTON, Sept. 3, 2014 -- Zoetis Inc. has been granted a conditional license by USDA for a vaccine to help fight the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed millions of piglets in the U.S. since being found in the nation’s herd in the spring of 2013.

To obtain the license, the company had to show the vaccine was safe in a field study and to demonstrate the product has a “reasonable expectation of efficacy,” Zoetis said in a news release. Zoetis said it is working to complete the studies needed to obtain full licensure in the U.S.

The two-dose inactivated vaccine, licensed for use in healthy pregnant female pigs, is designed to help them develop antibodies which can be transmitted to their newborn piglets. Zoetis said it expects the vaccine will be available to veterinarians and farmers in September.

 “We at Zoetis are proud to provide our customers with a vaccine to help battle this devastating disease,” said Catherine Knupp, the president of Zoetis Research and Development. “Rapidly emerging infectious diseases such as PEDv not only threaten animal health but also the livelihoods of farmers.”

PEDv was first diagnosed in the U.S. in April 2013. Since then, the virus, which causes severe gastrointestinal illness, has spread to 30 states and is responsible for more than 7 million deaths in piglets. The USDA designated PEDv a reportable disease in June 2014 and it continues to be a serious threat to U.S. pig farms with an estimated 30 percent of farms reporting a recurrence of the disease within a year after an initial outbreak. Although PEDv is a significant health threat to young piglets, it poses no risk to food safety or to human health.

The Zoetis vaccine is the second to be granted a conditional license by USDA for PEDv. In June, the agency approved licensing for a product developed by Harrisvaccines Inc. of Ames, Iowa.

The spread of the disease has slowed in recent months as the virus is not transmitted easily in warmer temperatures. Scientists say there may be a resurgence of PEDv as winter approaches.

Zoetis said it is working with Iowa State University on a second vaccine approach to help control PEDv. In the meantime, veterinarians say producers should concentrate on improving animal husbandry and hygiene and sanitation measures, all of which can slow or prevent the spread of the virus.


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