Saskatoon

U of S vaccine could save millions of pigs and millions of dollars

Field testing is underway, but it appears researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a vaccine to combat a virus that has killed millions of pigs and cost the industry hundreds of millions.

Breakthrough happens in level 3 containment labs

PED has killed more than eight million pigs. (REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Field testing is underway, but it appears researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a vaccine to combat a virus that has killed millions of pigs and cost the industry hundreds of millions.

"This is great news for the swine industry both in Canada and globally," said Sask Pork general manager Neil Ketilson.

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PED spread to Canada from the United States in 2014. It's also a problem in Europe and Asia. PED is found only in pigs, and can kill up to 100 per cent of infected piglets.

The U of S credits its new level three facility at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre.

"[It] provided us with the containment infrastructure to develop a vaccine and demonstrate it protected up to 100 per cent of the piglets," said Dr. Volker Gerdts, VIDO-InterVac's research director.

Industry now working with U of S

Now, industry, including a company called Huvepharma, is partnering with the U of S to bring its vaccine to market in North America.

"Our goal is to have the vaccine available for commercial use as soon as possible to help stop producer losses," said Dr. Boris Gavrilov, a senior scientist at Huvepharma.

Field testing is happening in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba, where the industry is struggling to protect piglets from a recent outbreak of PED. 

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