Understanding and Mitigating Risk of PED

farmer observing pigs in a barn

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is a highly contagious disease: One thimble of fecal matter can infect thousands of pigs. With no cure for PED, it may seem impossible to avoid it. There are, however, several ways in which you can help reduce the risk of infecting your herd with PED. Strict biosecurity protocols are the best way to prevent the PED virus from entering a farm or from spreading on a farm. Below are various questions to help assess the potential biosecurity needs and risks on your farm, and several best practices and tips to keep your herd healthy. 


Do you know the status of your replacement animals? (PED positive, negative or is their status unknown?) 


Introducing animals to a new location can be a risk. It is important to know the current status of replacement animals or pigs moving from the nursery to the grow-finish phase. It may be useful to quarantine animals for at least three weeks before they are introduced to the rest of the herd. All animals arriving at the farm should be washed before entering any housing facilities. If quarantined, pigs should be thoroughly cleaned before joining the rest of the herd. 

If replacement animals have tested positive for PED, they should only be introduced to herds where PED exists and are in a program to diminish the virus. For farms trying to eliminate or prevent PED in their herds, any replacement pigs introduced to the herd must test negative for the virus. If the status of replacement pigs is unknown, the current status can be obtained through diagnostics. If any symptoms of PED appear, contact the farm’s veterinarian immediately. 


Are other pig farms in close proximity? 


If nearby farms have pigs that have tested positive for PED (within two to four miles), enlist stringent biosecurity measures for any person or vehicle entering the farm. 


Have you established a “line of separation?”  


Establishing a clear line of separation – also known as the “clean/dirty line,” or a line that separates “inside the farm” from “outside the farm” – can help immensely with biosecurity. This line should not be crossed by persons, animals, vehicles or equipment until they have been cleaned and disinfected properly. 


Does vehicular traffic come on and off your farm?


Any vehicles arriving at the farm from outside of the farm should not cross the line of separation, including any market trucks as well as personal vehicles.  

Do not allow live-haul vehicles to enter the farm without a thorough cleaning and disinfection. 

Prepare the market truck by cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the truck between loads, including pedals, door handles, steering wheel, etc. 

For loading pigs, the load-out area should be at the line of separation, so that the pigs remain “inside the farm” until loading onto the truck, which remains “outside the farm.” The load-out area should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after the truck has pulled away. 

Instruct those utilizing vehicles on the farm to park away from both the pig barn(s) and the waste control area, avoid parking or driving in muddy areas, and keep windows up to prevent pests from entering the vehicle. 


Do you have feed delivered?  


If feed is delivered to the farm, ensure that any vehicles or personnel coming from outside of the farm do not cross the line of separation. Any materials or equipment that are used to transfer feed from the truck to the bin must be cleaned and disinfected prior to and after use. The infectivity of PED in feed may be eliminated/reduced by using FDA-approved feed additives and/or storing feed at least two weeks prior to consumption. 


Do you have a detailed biosecurity plan pertaining to human interaction with animals?  


First and foremost, avoid ALL unnecessary human traffic. A minimum of an overnight period of downtime between farm visits is often preferred for humans. 

When loading pigs, clean boots and coveralls should be worn, and once worn, should be stored in a separate area until they can be laundered.  

When entering animal housing areas, use disposable coveralls, boots, clipboards, pens, etc. to avoid contamination from building to building or farm to farm. Do not bring any food or drink onto the farm. Clean and disinfect all equipment utilized by farmworkers and others, including sort-boards, rattle paddles, etc. Following the farm visit, contain all garbage, clothing and used equipment in a garbage bag, and place it away from clean supplies. 


What is your manure handling process?  


The PED virus can stay viable in manure stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 28 days, and potentially up to six months, and can re-infect susceptible pigs if brought to the floor surface. All farms should measure and record manure depth in each structure weekly, and should also record the amount of manure removed when spreading manure. 

When scheduling a manure hauler, share biosecurity protocols for the farm with them. Explain where the line of separation is on the farm, and that manure haulers should not cross that line. Do not allow the manure-hauling crew to enter the barns, office areas or come in direct contact with the pigs. 

Farm personnel should avoid any direct contact with the crew and pumping equipment. If farm personnel must cross the line of separation, clean boots, coveralls and gloves should be worn, and then disposed of once used. Clean and disinfect any reusable gear that comes in contact with the pumping crew or equipment. Consider providing a water source for the manure hauler to use when cleaning their equipment before leaving the farm. 


Is there a proper animal disposal unit on the farm?  


The animal disposal unit (ADU) should be located away from other livestock, and wildlife should not be allowed access to it.  

Wear designated coveralls and boots when handling mortalities. Any tractor or truck equipment used to move mortalities should be washed, disinfected and dried before use. Transporting mortalities to the ADU should be the last task of the day, and should be brought to the line of separation so those outside of the farm do not have to cross the line to access the mortalities. 

Once mortalities are placed in the ADU (without crossing the line of separation), equipment must be washed and disinfected again, and clothing and boots should be removed, laundered and stored away from livestock areas. 


Do you share any equipment, vehicles or other materials with neighboring farms?  


Any equipment shared with neighboring farms should be cleaned and disinfected each time it arrives at a different farm to limit the spread of the PED virus via manure, pests or debris. 


What kind of sanitation practices or products do you use? 


Proper sanitation is critical to limit the spread of PED. Proper sanitation includes a hot-water wash, disinfection and adequate drying time. 

Most virucidal disinfectants are very effective against PED. They include cresol, sodium hydroxide (2%), formalin (1%), sodium carbonate (4% anhydrous or 10% crystalline, with 0.1% detergent), ionic and nonionic detergents, strong iodophors (1%) in phosphoric acid, and lipid solvents such as chloroform (10). 

A PED virus sanitation protocol has been shown in Boehringer Ingelheim internal studies to consistently produce PCR negative environmental test results. This protocol includes: 

  • Pressure wash 

  • Descale/Remove biofilm

  • Scrub with firm bristle brush 

  • Rinse 

  • Disinfect 

  • Dry 

  • Bleach 

  • Rinse 

  • Dry 

Once you’ve reviewed the risks associated with PED on the farm, work closely with your veterinarian to develop a customized plan to help meet your PED goal. 


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