Research finds deadly hog virus can be spread through feed

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A deadly virus that’s driving up pork prices as it’s wiped out as many as one in every ten piglets in Iowa in the past year can be spread through hog feed, according to new research. Dr. Scott Dee, the study’s lead author and research director at Minnesota’s Pipestone Veterinary Services, says they were stunned to learn Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or P-E-D-V, can travel through livestock feed.

“That’s why I think the industry is a little reactive to that, because it’s new, it’s a surprise,” Dee says. “Again, no blame on the feed industry because we’re partners and we have to work together, but we have to realize that it is a potential risk, so we can manage that risk.” Iowa’s first P-E-D-V case was found more than a year ago. Since then, the virus has killed as many as seven-million pigs nationwide.

There have been more than 41-hundred cases reported in 26 states, including more than a thousand cases in Iowa. Dee isn’t sure where the virus originated but believes the study’s findings can help deter future outbreaks. He says the revelation that P-E-D-V travels through feed has shaken the pork industry. “The feed’s the wild card because historically feed hasn’t been a risk factor for disease transfer,” he says. “Now, all of the sudden, we have a pathogen that does. The fact that the feed could potentially be a vehicle was a big surprise.”

The study is being published in the B-M-C Veterinary Research Journal. Later this month, Dee’s team will release a paper on commercially-available feed additives which he says will help in the prevention of P-E-D-V. The Hawkeye State is the nation’s number-one hog producer in an industry worth some six-point-seven billion dollars to the Iowa economy.

(Radio Iowa)