PORCINE epidemic diarrhoea (PED) has spread through more than 30 states in the USA this year, driving up the price of pork products.

Professor Wim van der Poel, senior scientist at the Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands, told delegates at the Society for Applied Microbiology annual summer conference how veterinary laboratories in Europe are working together to implement reliable diagnostic tests to ensure readiness for the potential emergence of PED in Europe.

Professor van der Poel said: “This is a serious epidemic, which is affecting animal welfare as well as jeopardising the livelihoods of farmers and driving up the price of pork for the consumer.

“To halt an epidemic like this, we have to respond very rapidly to new outbreaks of disease and for that we need fast and reliable diagnostic tests.”

PED is not a new microbe. The virus has been circulating in Europe since the early 1980s, and now a variant of this virus is circulating in the US, Canada and China.

For rapid diagnostic response in case of a potential introduction of this virus to Europe, five veterinary laboratories have united in the CoVetLab group.

The idea is that laboratories in Europe will be able to run these as soon as possible, to rapidly identify the cause of any outbreak of diarrhoea in pigs.