Illness can wipe out piglet herds

FAIRMONT – Thirty cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus have been confirmed in Minnesota, according to Theresa Twohey, communications and marketing director with the Minnesota Pork Board.

PED causes diarrhea in the animals, similar to acute gastroenteritis, and is easily spread among the herd, although the National Pork Board stresses the disease is not communicable to humans.

The disease is most severe in young pigs, but can affect pigs of any age. It can cause death and loss of production, including wiping out entire herds of piglets. Most older pigs recover from the disease within 7 to 10 days.

It was first discovered in the United States in May, although the disease isn’t new to the industry; it has been known to several European countries, Korea, China and Japan. The outbreak of disease locally will not affect international trade.

Twohey said the illness is not a reported disease, according to the USDA, so they don’t know which farms are affected, just how many have been affected.

“There are 30 sites [in Minnesota] with confirmed outbreak,” she said. “But there are 3,000 sites in Minnesota, so it is a small percentage.”

Pork is not affected by the disease, nor is it expected that the virus would cause an increase in the cost of pork.

“We don’t know what the future holds,” Twohey said,” but we don’t see prices raising based on this. … It is not a food safety issue. It is strictly a virus for pigs. It doesn’t affect the pork.”

The virus has been confirmed in about 200 hog facilities in 14 other states including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

According to the Iowa Pork Industry Center, an industry advocate, the ability to test for the disease is limited. It is believed to be transmitted by infected food or feces, and can be contained by quarantining infected animals and washing down trucks and production facilities.

This article includes information from the Associated Press.


Iowa Pork Industry Center Warning: