PEDv: Pork Virus Has Killed 10 Percent Of Hog Population In America

A killer pork virus has wiped out 10 percent of the hog population in the United States. The PEDv virus has been sweeping around the country for less than a year and has had a devastating impact on the pig population and pork prices.

Minnesota hog nutritionist John Goihl said one farmer in his state lost approximately 7,500 piglets not long after they were born due to the PEDv pork virus. In North Carolina, pig farmer Henry Moore reportedly lost 12,00 piglets in less than a single month. The string of pork virus deaths also hit Oklahoma farmers hard. John Prestage lost a total of 30,000 piglets since last fall.

PEDv stands for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus. The malady continues to puzzle and frustrate scientists studying the illness and hog deaths. Farmers upset about both the loss of life and the crippling financial issues created by the piglet deaths, are desperately hoping scientists find a cure for the pork virus in the very near future. “It’s a real morale killer in a barn. People have to shovel pigs out instead of nursing them along,” Goihl said.

Since last summer, approximately 7 million pigs have died due to PEDv in America, according to Paragon Economics – an Iowa-based group. Organization president and National Pork Board consultant Steve Meyer said the USDA data on the pork virus established the nation’s hog head around 63 million as of the beginning of March.

PEDv first presented in Ohio in May, 2013. During the course of the past 11 months, the pork virus has spread to 30 states. Packing plants are expected to generate about 2 percent less pork this year because of the disease. Some farmers believe the production estimates will go far lower if the rapidly spreading hog disease is not brought under control in the coming months.

The United States Agricultural Association recently classified PEDv as a “reportable disease.” Such a designation requires the pork industry to now track the spread of the disease and share the statistics with the USDA for review. Meyer called the new label a “positive step” that he wished the USDA would have enacted last summer when farmers first reported how rapidly the pork virus as spreading around the country.

Many farmers reportedly feel that PEDv is spread from pig to pig via contact with their own manure. “Something like a tablespoon of PEDv infected manure is roughly enough to infect the entire US hog herd,” Iowa State University Swine Biosecurity Specialist Butch Baker said.

To date, the National Pork Board has spent approximately $1.7 million researching PEDv. The pork virus is almost always fatal in piglets younger than 21 days. Pork prices are at a record high of $3.83 per pound.

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