St. Louis (CBS ST. LOUIS) — The U.S. pork industry is facing a deadly swine virus that has now spread to 13 different states, with more than 100 positive cases being found since the virus was diagnosed just last month.
Known as the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), the rapidly spreading virus is proving even harder to control than the 99.4 percent similar Chinese virus that killed more than 1 million piglets since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal.
However, federal officials say that the virus poses no health risk to humans or other animals, and that such pigs are still safe for people to eat.
PEDV was diagnosed earlier this month for the first time in Arkansas, Kansas and Pennsylvania. Previously, the virus had been found in barns in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The virus has been found in baby pigs, adult sows and other hogs which are being fattened for slaughter in the U.S. How and when the virus came to the states is still unknown. The first U.S. case of PEDV was reported on May 17. But researchers at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, and other diagnostic labs have since discovered that PEDV arrived as early as April 16, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.
U.S. Agriculture Department investigators are looking for clues to the growing outbreak and focusing their efforts on the U.S.’s livestock transportation system.
“It could happen at the slaughterhouse, where you have a trailer unloading a truck of pigs that was positive,” Dr. Montserrat Torremorell of the University of Minnesota told Reuters, who noted that diagnostic researchers at the University of Minnesota and elsewhere have tested hundreds of samples in recent weeks.
“If the person doesn’t clean the trailer correctly, and then goes to load up another load of pigs that were negative for PEDV, that person could end up delivering a truck of pigs to an uninfected farm,” she said.