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Illinois Pork Producers React to Deadly Pig Virus

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File photo of pigs. (Photo by Gabriela Panela/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of pigs. (Photo by Gabriela Panela/AFP/GettyImages)

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CARLYLE, Ill. (KMOX) – A deadly virus known as porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) is sweeping across the nation’s pig farms and it’s taking a heavy toll on baby pigs. Clayton Johnson is the Director of Health for the Maschhoff’s, a family owned farm in Carlyle , Illinois.

“It can be completely devastating to the point where you can lose all piglets born on that farm for a short period of time. The piglets have no immunity to it, the sows have no immunity to it. And until the sows can build that immunity and share that with their piglets, you’re going to see death loss that’s near 100%,” says Johnson.

Most older pigs survive. It takes about three or four weeks for an infected farm to get over the disease. That’s when the sows develop antibodies they pass onto the piglets through their milk.

“And because this is a virus, we don’t have an antibiotic that we can pull off the shelf that’s going to help. It’s a viral disease and much like influenza in people, the pigs are going to have to get better through their own immune system,” says Johnson.

The virus, which originated in China, has been around since last spring, but came back with a vengeance this winter. It has now hit pig farms in more than 25 states. So far, there’s no indication its spreading from pigs to humans.

Pork prices are expected to rise due to this outbreak.

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