Deadly swine virus spreads to Missouri and Kansas

04/09/2014 9:29 PM

04/09/2014 9:29 PM

A swine virus that kills piglets and is threatening to raise pork prices has spread to 27 states, including Missouri and Kansas.

The two states haven’t been as hard hit as others, including Iowa. But veterinarians and pork industry officials say there’s no doubt it is here and spreading.

“It’s around the state in all quadrants,” said Stephen Patterson, a veterinarian in Shelbina, Mo., who also serves on a health advisory board at the Missouri Pork Association.

He said the first reported case of the virus in Missouri was in January.

Tim Stroda, president of the Kansas Pork Association, said it’s difficult to say how extensive the virus is in his state. But he estimates about 40 percent of sows have caught it, and it could spread to newborn pigs.

“It’s definitely in the state,” he said.

An estimated 5 million pigs have died in the U.S. from the virus, which is considered always fatal to newborn pigs. The diarrhea virus is called PEDv.

Patterson, who also runs a seminar firm called Passion for Pigs, said the virus is suspected to have come from China. Other strains of the virus are showing up, suggesting the source hasn’t been stopped.

“The pipeline could still be open,” he said.

Warm weather should slow the spread of the virus, but summer is also the time for livestock shows. Both states are urging greater biosecurity measures to keep the strain from spreading during event season.

The pig deaths have already caused pork prices to climb on futures markets. Some experts say consumers could see pork prices rise 25 percent this summer.

Pork products continue to be safe to eat, and experts said the virus poses no threat to other animals and humans.

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