Deadly Pig Virus Enters U.S.

The nation’s pigs and pork industry are threatened by a deadly virus that somehow made its way into the United States

Flickr/Vicky TGAW
A virus called porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs, is infecting pigs in 14 states.

A deadly virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs has entered the United States and has infected pigs in 14 states, according to Scientific American.

Scientists are trying to track the virus and prevent its spread as an outbreak could cost the United States’ pork industry millions of dollars.

The virus called porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), spreads quickly by a fecal-oral route and can infect entire herds.

“How this virus got here, that’s the million-dollar question,” says James Collins, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul.

It was first discovered in the United Kingdom in 1971 and caused wide outbreaks in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. After pigs in those areas developed immunity to the virus, it died off and only caused occasional outbreaks. Since then, it has spread to Asia, where it has been endemic since 1982 and has caused considerable economic losses to pork producers.

Adult pigs typically recover from the virus, but it can kill 80 to 100 percent of infected piglets. However, it poses no health threat to humans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has attempted to keep PEDV out of the country by restricting imports of pigs and pork products from certain infected nations such as China. On May 10, however, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Iowa State University in Ames found that PEDV had infected pigs in Iowa, the leading producer of the nations’ pork, and the first known case was found earlier in Ohio from samples submitted on April 16.


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