France is to looking at banning pigs and pig by-products from a number of countries, including the US, Canada and Mexico, over fears surrounding the porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) .

It had originally looked at introducing the ban over the weekend, over fears of porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus, but has delayed the decision until today, when European experts are due to meet to discuss the potential risks.

PEDv has wiped out as many as 7 million pigs in the US in the past year, pushing pig prices to record highs. In Europe the pig industry is on red alert, in a bid to prevent an outstandingly virulent pig disease from entering the region. The industry is focusing in particular on a specialist feed ingredient for young pigs—spray-dried porcine plasma.

Positive polymerase chain reaction tests in the States and bioassay tests by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have pointed to spray-dried porcine plasma (SDPP) as an ingredient being capable of containing porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv), but not that it is necessarily capable of actually transmitting the disease. Further tests are ongoing in the hope of getting a clearer picture.

However in Britain specialist pig vets say that if PEDv arrived in the country it would spread quickly through the nation’s naive pig population, causing incalculable damage, so industry organisations are urging producers to take every precaution, even though the case against SDPP is unproven.

PEDv is harmless to humans but is killing up to 100% of piglets on affected pig farms in the US. Nobody knows how the highly infectious virus spread to the States from China, and how it has subsequently spread to Mexico and Canada.