PED was first detected in the United States nearly a year ago, and has now been confirmed in 43 of Indiana’s 92 counties. It has also impacted farmers in 26 other states.
It is a flu-like sickness, that can have deathly consequences for new born piglets, but not as much of a threat to older hogs.
Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana’s State Veterinarian, described the disease that results – which does not affect humans.
“We’re dealing with what’s called porcine epidemic diarrhea, otherwise known as PED, and unfortunately we’ve seen on some farms significant mortality, particularly in young pigs.”
Marsh said they are also trying to determine how PED made its way into the country, so they can better understand why and how it is moving so quickly through the U.S.
“It was a virus first diagnosed in Europe in the 1970s and it moved into Asia,” the veterinarian said. “China has been challenged with it and actually the virus that we have identified in the United States through DNA sequencing, it is most like one that was found in China.”
There is no vaccine for the virus, although researchers hope to develop one by next winter. The silver lining, according to Marsh, is that the virus is unique to pigs. It does not establish infections in humans, even if a person is exposed to pigs or consumes pork products.
The virus has impacted hog futures. Prices for spring and summer contracts have soared above average for hundredweight for the March through August season. While it is not a threat to food safety, the virus could make the grocery bill go up, as prices on bacon and other products may increase.