Meredith Davis and Theopolis Waters of the Chicago Tribune report that a Killer virus spreads unchecked through U.S. hog belt, pushing pork to record, and now it has spread to Japan where is hitting the largest produces.
The killer stalking U.S. hog farms is known as PEDv, a malady that in less than a year has wiped out more than 10 percent of the nation's pig population and helped send retail pork prices to record highs. The highly contagious Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is puzzling scientists searching for its origins and its cure and leaving farmers devastated in ways that go beyond financial losses. ... "It's a real morale killer in a barn. People have to shovel pigs out instead of nursing them along," Goihl said.
Since June 2013 as many as 7 million pigs have died in the United States due to the virus, said Steve Meyer, president of Iowa-based Paragon Economics and consultant to the National Pork Board said. United States Department of Agriculture data showed the nation's hog herd at about 63 million as of March 1, 2014.
Davis and Waters report PEDv was first reported last May in Ohio and spread to 30 states within one year, with no cure in site. Last week, the USDA implemented a tracking system for PEDv requiring reporting so they can track its spread.PEDv is believed to spread with animal to animal contact and through manure.
"Something like a tablespoon of PEDv infected manure is roughly enough to infect the entire U.S. hog herd," said Rodney "Butch" Baker, swine biosecurity specialist at Iowa State University.
The virus is 'nearly always fatal pigs younger than 21 days." and the virus can live at room temperture for up to 13 days. The USDA says PEDv is not a health risk for humans, and not a food safety issue.
Despite months of forensic research, scientists still do not know how the virus entered the U.S., but since it is nearly identical to the one that infected pigs in China's Anhui province, one report published in the American Society of Microbiology journal mBio indicates researchers are exploring whether widely used pig-blood byproducts in hog feed may have introduced the Anhui virus into the U.S. and Canada.
There have also been milder outbreaks in recent years, in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and parts of South America.
Of the 15,000 samples scientist have tested in American pigs 32 percent have tested positive.
The virus "acts like a lawn mower" on the villi in a pig's intestines, which are the tiny projections that aid digestion, said Tony Forshey, chief of animal health at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. With their villi gone, the piglets cannot absorb nutrients from food or water, contract diarrhea and die from dehydration.
No vaccine or cure exists, although several companies are working on research.
(Disturbing images of factory farming)
Comments are closed on this story.