Farms that have been hit with the disastrous pig disease known as porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PED, must begin reporting any outbreaks as part of a new program which will aid in monitoring and perhaps start to control the spread of the disease, the federal government announced at the end of last week.
The United States Department of Agriculture has estimated that just under four percent of America’s pigs have been sickened by PED. Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed millions of pigs in nearly 30 states since showing up in America in May of 2013. The states of Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Illinois have been the worst struck.
For shoppers, the effects are being seen at the supermarket because the disease is the reason for recent surges in pork and bacon prices. The Department of Agriculture is saying that bacon has gone up around 13 percent in price compared to about a year ago. However there are other types of pork that have not risen nearly so much. It is believed that pork prices across the board will go up by almost four percent this year.
Regardless, farmers are struggling to fight the sickness because very little is known about how it spreads and there is no vaccine that is federally approved as of yet. The disease is almost always 100 percent lethal to younger pigs. In the older ones, it makes them very ill but does not always kill them. The origin of the virus is a mystery at the present time.
The USDA has stated it would give at least $5 million to battle the virus, enhancing the nearly $2 million research study that is already in effect by the pork business. Farmers will also be required to report any cases of a related disease known as swine delta coronavirus.
A spokesperson for the USDA stated that while it was definitely dangerous to the pork industry and is costing everyone a bit more at the grocery store, it is good to know that this is not something that is a health concern.
Even though no one knows for sure, some think the disease could have come from China. As was stated above PED poses the most risk to young pigs. They end up dying from dehydration. The illness does not spread to other animals or to humans.
The USDA is wanting to keep track of how diseases like PED are able to spread inside the U.S., and stated it would work with individual state agriculture branches in order to better track the virus and also keep track on the movement of animals that come from farms which have been labeled as “infected”.
Some states are even requiring that a veterinarian be on hand to officially endorse that pigs going to new farms or being taken to slaughterhouses are free of the virus.
However it does not appear that the USDA is going to establish quarantines. If they did, that would be something that could end up crippling the entire pork manufacturing trade by stopping the movement of animals to the slaughterhouse.
The farms that have been hit with PED must begin reporting any outbreaks as part of a new program which will aid in monitoring and perhaps start to control the spread of the disease.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Wall Street Journal