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Pig protection

Published: 25 Jan 2016 11:20

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea to become a notifiable disease in Scotland.

Animal health laws in Scotland are being strengthened to protect the country's £95 million pig industry.

Subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) will be classed as a notifiable disease in Scotland from March 2, 2016 - making it mandatory for pig keepers to report any suspected case of the infection to Quality Meat Scotland.

The legislation change was requested by industry and received unanimous support in a recent consultation.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"PED does not affect humans but can be deadly for piglets, and we must do all we can to protect Scotland's £95 million pig industry from any potential risk.

"The Scottish pig industry has been working, with Scottish Government support, to prevent an incursion of this disease, and to develop robust contingency plans for dealing with any suspected cases.

"Strengthening Scotland's animal health legislation to make PED a notifiable disease will ensure industry can act quickly and effectively to control and eliminate any outbreak should one occur."

Quality Meat Scotland pig specialist Allan Ward welcomed today's announcement. He said: "This is a great step forward for the Scottish pig industry which works extremely hard to ensure high levels of health are maintained in the Scottish herd."

Grace Webster, British Veterinary Association Scottish Branch President, said: "This successful outcome will support Scottish agricultural industry in taking control of this very serious disease and could well be extended to novel disease in other species. This is a fantastic example of government, vets and industry working together for the benefit of animal health and welfare and farming communities across Scotland."

Gordon McKen of Scottish Pig Producers said: "This is excellent news for the Scottish Pig Industry. We are all prepared to go and this decision allows us to progress with the plans to protect the Scottish pig herd."

Notes to editors

A Scottish Government consultation on proposals to make PED a notifiable disease ran from 13 November to 24 December 2015. A summary and analysis of responses are available via: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/animal-welfare/specified-diseases

This legislation change will put in place a legal obligation in Scotland on:

  • a person who has in their possession or under their charge a pig or pig carcase
  • a veterinary surgeon or other person who examines or inspects a pig or pig carcase
  • a person who, following analysis of a sample taken from a pig or pig carcase and who knows or reasonably suspects that a pig may be infected with PED, to notify a person authorised by Scottish Ministers as soon as practicable. In practice this would be to Quality Meat Scotland.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) is caused by a virus and leads to severe gastrointestinal disease in pigs. The presence of PED is generally signalled by an outbreak of unusual or rapidly spreading diarrhoea in pigs of any age. Once the virus is introduced into a group or herd of pigs the infection spreads rapidly and can be easily transmitted through indirect contact. Widespread transmission can be prevented through the control of pig movements and high standards of biosecurity, particularly thorough cleansing and disinfection of premises, vehicles, people's clothing and equipment. Vaccines have been shown to reduce the severity of an outbreak but currently do not limit spread or prevent infection.

In 2012 a new highly pathogenic strain of PED was identified in China. This strain causes death in 80-100 per cent of infected suckling piglets in herds not previously exposed to the virus. Infected older pigs do not usually die but the virus affects growth rates and reproductive performance, therefore significantly reducing herd productivity, health and welfare. This new strain has now spread across North America and more recently it was detected in the Ukraine. There have been no reports of this strain in the EU, but other, milder, strains have been seen in the EU pig herd.

The pig industry has developed contingency plans for the control and elimination of PED should an outbreak occur in Scotland. As part of that plan Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Wholesome Pigs Scotland (WPS) have collaborated to establish a Scottish Pig Disease Control Centre (SPDCC) which will offer biosecurity advice and support to the keepers of pigs on suspect and infected premises.

Scotland's pig industry was worth £95 million in 2014 (Source: Economic Report on Scottish Agriculture 2015).