USDA: Cold, wet weather may help spread deadly pig virusFrigid temperatures across a large swath of the U.S. this week followed by warmer conditions could aid the spread of a fatal pig disease now in 22 states, affecting hundreds of thousands of pigs, a swine veterinarian says.
By: Reuters ,
Frigid temperatures across a large swath of the U.S. this week followed by warmer conditions could aid the spread of a fatal pig disease now in 22 states, affecting hundreds of thousands of pigs, a swine veterinarian says.
“The virus likes cold, wet and cloudy days,” says Rodney Baker, a swine veterinarian at Iowa State University at Ames, Iowa, the top pork producing state in the United States.
At this time of year the virus gets frozen on clothes and shoes, making it easy to track around and spread, Baker adds.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in hogs, has spread quickly across the U.S. hog belt since its discovery in the United States in April 2013.
California and Wyoming are the latest states to report confirmed cases of the deadly pig virus, bringing the number of states affected to 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
The number of new cases increased by 134 for the week of Dec. 29, bringing total reported cases to 2,084, according to USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network.
Earlier this week, several hog producing states experienced double-digit subzero temperatures, and forecasters now are calling for warmer temperatures as highs climb toward 30 degrees Fahrenheit by the weekend.
Baker told Reuters the virus can remain viable after a single, maybe even a couple of freeze-thaw cycles. Cold weather and cloudy conditions protect the virus, but heat and sunlight will deactivate it, Baker says.
The spread of the disease has heightened scrutiny of the U.S. trucking industry as livestock transport trailers are seen as a means of transmission.
Trucks need to be washed, disinfected and heated to deactivate PEDv, hog industry health officials say.
But if a sprayed disinfectant is not given ample time to activate before the truck is driven in freezing temperatures, the virus will not be killed and can infect the next load of pigs hauled in the trailer, Baker says.
Heating trucks after washing and using disinfectant is the best way to rid them of the virus, but they are not washed frequently due to time and expense constraints, U.S. hog industry veterinarians say.
It can take at least two hours and costs of upwards of $500 to wash, disinfect and dry a truck properly, Baker says.