Hawaii has identified its first outbreak of a deadly pig virus that emerged in the continental U.S. last year, confounding officials who are uncertain how the disease arrived over thousands of miles of ocean.
A research study has shown for the first time that livestock feed can carry a virus that has killed about 13 percent of the U.S. hog herd, the study’s lead author says, confirming suspicions among farmers and veterinarians battling outbreaks.
The cost to produce a BLT, America’s favorite summer sandwich, hit a record high of $1.65 in May and will continue to take a bigger bite out of wallets in the coming months, given a pig virus that has ramped up bacon prices and drought-stricken salad crops in California.
U.S. veterinarians are warning that outbreaks of a deadly pig virus will climb this autumn after a summertime hiatus, likely killing another 2.5 million pigs in the next 12 months and amplifying an increase in pork prices.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday ordered farmers to start reporting cases of a deadly pig virus and pledged over $26 million in funding to combat the disease, pushing back against criticism of his handling of a widespread outbreak.
Swine veterinarian Bill Minton thought the baby pigs dying at a farm in western Ohio had a bad case of gastro-enteritis and was stumped when lab results came back with no indication of what had killed them.
An Indiana farm has become the first to confirm publicly it suffered a second outbreak of a deadly pig virus, fueling concerns that a disease that has wiped out 10 percent of the U.S. hog population will be harder to contain than producers and veterinarians expected.
France has suspended a unilateral decision to ban imports of pigs and pork-based by-products from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan to protect against a virus pending the outcome of an European Union meeting on Tuesday, the farm ministry said.
U.S. hog prices could rise by 15 percent to 25 percent and consumer prices for pork by 10 percent to 12 percent as a result of a virus that has killed some 7 million piglets in the United States, according to the National Pork Producers Council.
A disease, known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, was first detected in South Dakota in June 2013 and has now reached at least 28 farms in the state, mostly in the southeast, according to South Dakota State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven.
The killer stalking U.S. hog farms is known as PEDv, a malady that in less than a year has wiped out more than 10 percent of the nation’s pig population and helped send retail pork prices to record highs.
Meredith Davis and Theopolis Waters
April 28, 2014
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