Midwestern hog farmers contend with outbreak of porcine virus

Jul 10, 2013

Credit Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Hog farmers across the Midwest are battling a new virus this summer. It’s often fatal in very young piglets, and researchers are still trying to explain the outbreak.

Since mid-May, when Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PEDV was first identified in this country, it has spread quickly, turning up in 15 states. Over 218 pigs have been diagnosed.

But Lisa Becton, a veterinarian with the National Pork Board says it’s not a new disease worldwide: "This virus was identified back in the 1970s in Europe, in the UK, and then it’s been most recently identified in Asia—China, Japan, Thailand.:

How it came to this country is one of the questions researchers are trying to unravel. Becton says PEDV’s impact is greatest on the youngest piglets because it causes dehydration.

"Younger pigs or baby pigs typically tend to have a high mortality associated with that. And older animals will get sick but they don’t usually perish from that, or die from that," said Becton.

Becton adds that the disease only affects swine and that sick pigs aren’t brought to processing plants. She says PEVD does not transmit to humans, but is spread when pigs have contact with infected manure.
Becton says washing down trailers and other equipment and letting them dry before exposing them to a new group of pigs may help limit the spread of the disease.