Deadly Piglet Virus is Spreading in United States

Posted on August 6, 2013

Sow and Piglets

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is sweeping U.S. hog farms and killing piglets. There is no cure. The disease is only deadly to piglets and not to adult pigs. The virus has been around for about forty years, but the new strain emerged in April. A PEDV faq says the new strain was confirmed in the U.S. on May 13, 2013. The mortality rate for the new strain is near 100% for piglets less than a week old.

The National Pork Board says PEDV poses no risk to other animals, including humans.

The New York Times reports that thousands of piglets have died and hog farms have been hit in 16 states. Some farms that have not been hit are taking major precautions, such as having visitors scrub down and change into disinfected coveralls before entering pig barns.

Robert Morrison, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota, told the Times, "There's not many times that a new virus hits an industry that has no immunity. Every pig in the United States is susceptible. It's like throwing a spark on a bunch of kindling."

Reuters reports that PEDV is being spread by questionable hygiene practices by working at meat processing plants and truckers.

Photo: Keith Weller/USDA

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