Pig-Disease Outbreak Detected in 11 States, University Says

A hog disease called porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, after spreading to 11 states in less than two months, poses no risk to consumer safety, according to Greg Stevenson of the veterinary diagnostic lab at Iowa State University.

“It’s been so important to communicate to people that it doesn’t affect the quality of pork,” Stevenson, a senior diagnostic pathologist at Iowa State in Ames, said in an interview after a presentation at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines. “It doesn’t infect people. It’ll have no impact on the quality of what you eat or the safety of what you eat.”

Twenty-six of the 103 confirmed cases are on sow farms, which affects piglets, Stevenson said, citing data from Iowa State and the University of Minnesota. Some farms reported mortality rates of 90 percent in suckling piglets, which are typically three weeks old or younger, and the other cases were non-sow farms with older animals that typically recover from the illness, he said.

The disease “shouldn’t affect the market at all,” according to Stevenson.

Iowa, the biggest U.S. pork producer, has the most confirmed cases, he said. Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska had a least one each, he said.

USDA Announcement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a detection of PEDV on May 17 and noted that it doesn’t affect people and is not a food-safety concern. PEDV is not a trade-restrictive disease and is widespread in many countries, said Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board.

The data doesn’t show how may litters were impacted, so the groups don’t know how many animals died, said Liz Wagstrom, the chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council.

“We’re a long way from making a large impact on a large number of pigs,” Wagstrom said, noting that it’s been “very dramatic” for the affected farms. The U.S. sow herd was 5.83 million head as of March 1, USDA data show.

The Pork Board allocated $450,000 in research funds to find out how this disease is spread and how to control it, the industry group said in statement today.

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, USDA, National Pork Producers Council, Pork Board and state diagnostic labs are working together to investigate the source of the virus, Wagstrom said.

As part of the investigation, samples are being collected from infected animals, and the groups are conducting an epidemiological survey, which is a 15-page questionnaire sent to the veterinarians of infected farms, assessing the inputs that went into operations that had PEDV, Wagstrom said. They will compare that to surveys of uninfected farms.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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