AMES (MCT) — A virus that can cause high death rates in young pigs has spread to include nearly 200 confirmed cases in Iowa since it was first detected in the United States earlier this year.
The latest numbers show more than 680 cases of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDV, have been reported in 17 states over the past six months. Iowa, the nation’s leading pork-producing state, has reported the most so far at 191, while Oklahoma is close behind with 161 confirmed cases of the virus.
The summary was provided by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and based on reports compiled by the veterinary diagnostic lab at the University of Minnesota, which is working with Iowa State University, Kansas State University and South Dakota State University to collect the data.
PEDV was first diagnosed in Great Britain more than 40 years ago, and there have since been sporadic outbreaks in Europe, with it becoming an endemic pig disease in Asia since the early 1980s. But just how the virus got to the United States, where it has devastated some of Iowa’s smaller pork producers, is unknown.
“For some of these farmers, it’s a death blow,” said Rodney Baker, a veterinarian at Iowa State University who heads the Iowa Pork Industry Center. Baker recalled a discussion he had with a Williamsburg farmer who was worried the outbreak would be the final straw for his operation, even though PEDV hadn’t yet been detected in his pigs.
“He just said if I get this, I’m done,” Baker said.
Iowa pork producers and veterinarians have worked hard to get a handle on the PEDV outbreak, and farmers have responded well to the information circulated about how to deal with the virus, Baker said.
But the approaching winter is troubling, as this type of virus tends to thrive in cold, wet environments.
“That’s our big concern, we’ve got the message out, but what’s going’s to happen this winter and will it affect our markets next year,” Baker said. “Most of us think it will.”
Nationwide, the total number of pigs lost has been estimated anywhere from 1.2 million to 2 million, he said, but that’s based on computer-generated models and speculation, leaving the exact mortality rate unclear.
PEDV poses no known public health threat and affects only pigs.
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