A new virus that has migrated to the United States has been killing piglets in 15 states so far, leading to a possible increase in pork prices. The Associated Press reports that Dr. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, also known as PED, was thought to exist only in Europe and China, but Colorado and 14 other states began reporting the virus in April, and officials confirmed its presence in May. The virus causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in pigs, and can be fatal.

"It has been devastating for those producers where it has been diagnosed. It affects nursing pigs, and in some places, there has been 100 percent mortality," he said.

The virus has been confirmed in about 200 hog facilities in 14 states, including Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

The disease is apparently not harmful to humans, and there has been no evidence that it affects pork products. It is unknown how the disease migrated to the United States. According to the Iowa Pork Industry Center, an industry advocate, the ability to test for the disease is limited. It is believed to be transmitted by infected food or feces, and can be contained by quarantining infected animals and washing down trucks and production facilities.

Source: AP, Wall Street Journal