A virus spreading to the nation’s hogs is cutting into production for farmers in Indiana. According to the Indiana State Board of Public Health, porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, has been found in 43 counties in the state.
PED causes dehydration in hogs, and though not typically lethal in older swine, is deadly for piglets. The virus killed an estimated four million pigs nationwide since its discovery last May.
Director of Checkoff Programs at Indiana Pork Sarah Ford said that this will likely impact pricing in grocery stores.
“It has been estimated that prices for bacon and other products in the store may go up a bit. It’s simply a supply and demand issue. It is yet to be seen how much it will affect profit and loss over time but we are anticipating that there will be some price increases in the store for sure,” Ford said.
Indiana State Veterinarian Dr. Bret Marsh said that the spread of the virus slowed recently due to increased temperatures. He said he hopes the coming months will allow time for further research, diagnostics, and vaccine development.
“One effort is to determine how it got into the country, because not only could we keep the PED out of the country in the future but also other viruses that are significant to our animal industries. That part is ongoing,” Marsh said.
Currently, farmers are monitoring possible cases of PED in their pigs and are working closely with veterinarians. Many farms also practice a “shower-in, shower-out” policy, where any agent going to a swine operation is required to wash before entering and leaving. This has been effective with other bacterial and viral infections in the past, but not with PED, which has still spread.
The virus does not affect food safety and cannot be transmitted to humans.