Not even a year ago, you had not even heard of PEDV – porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Now it has swept through almost all of the major hog states, including Illinois, and it’s the reason pork prices are up, and it’s the reason 2013 and 2014 are memorable for the wrong reasons for hog farmers. Tim Maiers, spokesman for the Illinois Pork Producers Association, says the industry has sunk $1 million into research but has yet to produce a vaccine.
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The virus, Maiers says, has spread to more than half the states, including the major hog states, including all corners of Illinois. “The baby pigs, until they are on solid food, have very high mortality rates,” Maiers says. “The virus affects their intestines, and they are not able to really absorb any of their mother's milk.” Once they are weaned, he says, their immunity to the virus rises substantially.
Maiers says humans cannot contract the virus, either by contact with the pigs or their infected manure or by eating pork products. But it's creating a gap in production for farmers, until the sows can breed again. Anyone whose boots, clothes, or trucks may get hog manure on them should clean them off as much as possible, so as not to spread the virus to more piglets.
The effects the virus is having on farms is not covered by insurance.