By Peter Crichton
UK pig producers have yet another challenge to face as a double dose of killer viruses hits a number of major herds.
The first deadly virus is known as Porcine Dermatitis and Nephropathy Syndrome (PDNS) and the second is Porcine Multisystemic Wasting Syndrome (PMWS).
Although little is yet known about the cause and spread patterns of these two virus diseases, they are starting to wreak havoc on UK grower and finisher units.
First signs of an outbreak of PDNS are reddish skin blotches on pigs in the 30-50kg range, which seem to be the most vulnerable.
This will lead to a loss of appetite, kidney damage and high mortality which in many cases will be 7-12% in affected batches.
PDNS in a herd is also believed to let in PMWS, which can be far more devastating, and both diseases are difficult to medicate against.
In some cases widespread use of CTC in younger pigs is reported to help them resist the challenge of PMWS later on in the system.
Vets advise all herd operators to maintain high levels of bio-security to try and limit the spread of both diseases, with particular attention being paid to livestock vehicles which may have carried suspect pigs.
The only silver lining of this particular cloud is that both PDNS and PMWS will reduce the number of UK slaughter pigs available and help boost prices for the home-produced product.