The non-human-threatening Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) has wiped out more than 7 million or 10% of pigs in the US in the past year, crushing the livelihood of farmers while sending pork prices to record highs.
John Goihl, a hog nutritionist in Shakopee, Minnesota, knows a farmer in his state who lost 7,500 piglets just after they were born. In Sampson County, North Carolina, 12,000 of Henry Moore’s piglets died in three weeks. Some 30,000 piglets perished at John Prestage’s Oklahoma operation in the fall of 2013.
The highly contagious PEDv is puzzling scientists searching for its origins and its cure and leaving farmers devastated in ways that go beyond financial losses. “It’s a real morale killer in a barn. People have to shovel pigs out instead of nursing them along,” Goihl said.
PEDv was first diagnosed in Ohio last May and within a year has spread to 30 states. Since June 2013, as many as 7 million out of 70 million pigs have died in the United States due to the virus, said Steve Meyer, president of Iowa-based Paragon Economics and consultant to the National Pork Board said.