Pig virus is back in the U.S. and swine veterinarians warn the authorities that the fatal disease expands during snowfall. The cold, wet weather helps the virus spread and 23 states have already been affected. After the first snowfall, new cases appeared and the current weather is speeding up the disease’s pace. So far, over 2,000 cases have been reported and the number is increasing.
The U.S. hog industry concluded that the number of deaths among pigs already exceeded one million, and could be as high as four million. The current weather represents a major setback in specialists’ attempt to eradicate the disease, which is destroying farmers’ businesses. According to Rodney Baker, a swine veterinarian at Iowa State University, the virus thrives during wet and cold days.
Pig virus has been spreading since April 2013 in the U.S., but the number of new cases expands uncontrollably during snowfall. Because the weather allows the microbe to stick to clothes and shoes, it can spread quickly and easily. Baker estimates that before the winter is over, the number of affected young pigs could be “maybe three, four times that.” The prognostic given by Robert Friendship, professor at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, is discouraging when it comes to the virus’ attack.
“Pigs start to have diarrhea and they dehydrate very quickly and they will die within a day or two,” Friendship said.
The cold weather favors the virus’ spread which survives in these conditions and clothing, equipment, boots and trucks are seen as a means of transmission. Although the pig virus poses no threat to human health, it kills all the infected young pigs and the number could expand during current snowfall.
Disease Could Be Deactivated
Farmers feel helpless as the vaccines created to combat the virus have been ineffective , but authorities mention that the pig microbe can be stopped if trucks in which young pigs are carried are washed, disinfected and heated. However, a sprayed disinfectant must be given time to activate before the truck carries the next load of pigs. If not, the virus can survive and the truck will infect more animals.
In order to make sure that the pig virus will not expand, especially during current snowfall, trucks should be washed and heated. Although this process is both time-consuming and expensive, it will prevent farmers from losing their businesses.
“It can take at least two hours and costs of upwards of $500 to wash, disinfect and dry a truck properly,” Baker said.
While the pig virus expands during snowfall, meat consumers fear that prices will soar. Hormel Foods Corp., the maker of Spam estimates that the company’s earnings for 2014 might be influenced by the “potentially volatile hog costs” which appeared in light of the microbe.
The pig virus, which is transmitted orally, expands during current snowfall and puts farmers’ businesses in danger as the number of new cases increases. Plenty of states are affected by the disease, but recent reports show that Iowa has the largest outbreak. Ontario, Canada’s province which has been recently declared infected, exports to five U.S. states, including Iowa. Authorities have no further news with regard to how to stop the epidemic.
By Gabriela Motroc