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Cold Weather May Have Aided Spread Of Hog Virus

Last updated on Tuesday, March 25, 2014

(UNDATED) - The long, cold winter may be partly to blame for the spread of a flu-like illness estimated to have killed a million piglets in the U.S.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus doesn't pose any danger to humans, even through pork or bacon. And while mature pigs get sick from PEDV, it doesn't kill them. But young pigs' immune systems aren't advanced enough to recover from the illness.

Purdue Extension veterinarian Darryl Ragland says infected sows pass the virus along to their young through their milk. He says the virus may have gotten its first foothold through the trucks that haul pigs back and forth. Those trucks are routinely disinfected before they get a new load, but Ragland says one theory is that subfreezing temperatures kept the disinfectant from doing its job.

The virus originated in China, and was first identified in the U.S. nine months ago.

Ragland says because it's new, hogs don't have immunity to it and are almost certain to get it if they're exposed. He says it's been detected in about half Indiana's counties.

The outbreak is likely to drive pork prices higher because of decreased supply.

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