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Eliminating porcine enteric coronaviruses in the nursery

Facility clean-up process improved sanitation practices, with fewer recurring cases of PEC.

February 16, 2023

2 Min Read
Eliminating porcine enteric coronaviruses in the nursery
National Pork Board

Porcine enteric coronaviruses are hardy in the environment. Therefore, elimination of PEC from facilities can be challenging.

In a recent production system study, a multistep cleaning procedure with inspection was used to eliminate PEC. The objective of the study was to determine which factors contribute to the elimination of PEC and provide educational materials about facility clean-up and pathogen transmission.

Facilities selected were previously diagnosed with PEC, emptied of pigs, underwent a clean-up process and received a new group of pigs from a sow farm negative for PEC. Employees were asked to provide when each step of the clean-up process occurred. Facility inspection occurred before whitewash application.

To standardize inspection ratings, a cleanliness scale was created with images and descriptions. An inspection form was developed to assess the facility entry, office, facilities, equipment, hallway and mortality areas systematically. Environmental samples were taken in the inspection areas with a Swiffer saturated in PBS and tested by PCR for PEC. To evaluate the success of elimination efforts, pooled fecal samples were taken weekly and tested via PCR to monitor PEC following clean-up. Further training of employees was implemented using Glo-Germ to visualize contamination and emphasize biosecurity protocols.

Thirty-two facilities were evaluated from April to August 2022, 10 were reinfected with PEC, and 22 remained negative. Over time, more facilities remained negative, with the last reinfection in June.

While there was not an individual process or inspection area that significantly impacted the outcome of elimination success, with more emphasis on the entire clean-up process, there were improved sanitation practices and fewer recurring cases of PEC. There was no correlation between a positive PCR on environmental samples and elimination success.

During the study, ambient temperatures increased and may have aided in PEC elimination. Increasing temperature was not a step utilized in the clean-up process and should be considered in the future for clean-up during colder months.

During training, production staff followed biosecurity protocols but became more knowledgeable of contamination potential in mortality areas as they are often overlooked due to their location.

Overall, implementing this study, with increased focus and training related to clean-up procedures, resulted in higher success rates of eliminating PEC.

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