In May of last year, researchers at Iowa State confirmed that a virus that targets piglets had been found in the United States. Since then, about 7 million baby pigs have succumbed to the virus and the U.S. pork industry is predicting up to a seven percent shrink in output this year. So what is this disease and should you be scared of it?
Here's what you need to know about the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). Be warned, this rundown is not for the queasy.
Is it dangerous for humans?
No. PEDv is not transferable to humans and really only affects young pigs.
Is it as disgusting as it sounds?
Yes. PEDv is a coronavirus that causes vomiting and severe diarrhea in pigs. Most adult pigs can survive the virus, but PEDv kills 80-to-100 percent of all piglets who fall ill. The virus is spread orally and through feces, and is highly contagious. Reuters reports that one tablespoon of manure infected with PEDv could infect the entire U.S. hog herd, or about 66 million pigs.
How did it get to the U.S.?
It's not clear how this bout of PEDv was introduced to the States, but some suspect that pig feed, which often contains dehydrated pig's blood, could be at fault. Some experts hypothesize that this strain comes from China, per Reuters:
[The strain] is nearly identical to one that infected pigs in China's Anhui province, according to a report published in the American Society of Microbiology journal mBio. "We find genetic similarities between the two, but we did not trace the virus between China and the United States," OIE's Vallat said.
So there's still no definitive answer to that question.