New Virus Decimating US Pig Farms

Epidemic has killed off untold thousands of piglets

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 5, 2013 12:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – A plague from overseas is devastating American pig farmers already reeling from soaring feed prices. The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which first surfaced in Ohio last spring, has spread to 16 states this year and wiped out thousands of piglets, the New York Times reports. Farmers are scrambling to sanitize their operations, but "if it gets in, you can’t stop it," says a veterinarian who works with farms in Illinois and Indiana. At one farm hit by the virus, "we filled wheelbarrows with dead pigs," he says.

Despite efforts to contain the threat, at least 30 new cases are being reported every week. "There’s not many times that a new virus hits an industry that has no immunity," says an expert who has been studying the virus. "Every pig in the United States is susceptible. It’s like throwing a spark on a bunch of kindling." The last country to experience a major outbreak was China and experts aren't sure how the virus got to the US—and they fear even more damaging animal viruses could also have arrived.

Hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ilinois - one of 16 states that has reported cases of the pig virus.
Hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ilinois - one of 16 states that has reported cases of the pig virus.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
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