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Fast-Moving Virus Infecting Hoosier Hogs

PHOTO: A fast-moving virus has infected hogs in 43 of the state's counties and caused significant mortality. Photo credit: morgue file.
PHOTO: A fast-moving virus has infected hogs in 43 of the state's counties and caused significant mortality. Photo credit: morgue file.
March 25, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's pork industry is facing a significant challenge. A quick-moving virus has infected hogs in nearly half of the state's counties since it was discovered in the United States in May of last year. Dr. Bret Marsh, Indiana's State Veterinarian, described the disease that results - which does not affect humans.

"We're dealing with what's called porcine epidemic diarrhea, otherwise known as PED, and unfortunately we've seen on some farms significant mortality, particularly in young pigs."

The virus has been confirmed in 43 Indiana counties, and in 26 other states.

According to Marsh, state leaders have maintained a map to track infections in each county and examine how the virus has spread. He said they are also trying to restrict movement of the virus from farm to farm by implementing bio-security measures, as he described.

"Making sure that we know who's on and off a farms, and taking caution to take a look at everything, including any kind of service vehicles, anything of that type that may be on and off an operation that may inadvertently introduce a virus."

Marsh said they are also trying to determine how PED made its way into the country, so they can better understand why and how it is moving so quickly through the U.S.

"It was a virus first diagnosed in Europe in the 1970s and it moved into Asia," the veterinarian said. "China has been challenged with it and actually the virus that we have identified in the United States through DNA sequencing, it is most like one that was found in China."

There is no vaccine for the virus, although researchers hope to develop one by next winter. The silver lining, according to Marsh, is that the virus is unique to pigs. It does not establish infections in humans, even if a person is exposed to pigs or consumes pork products.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN