Could Virus in Feed Be Contributing to Pig Deaths?
The number of pigs and hogs in the United States is thelowest it's been in seven years, according to a new report from the USDA.
The report says as of March 1, there were 62.9 million head of hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, the lowest inventory since 2007.
Experts say one of the reasons for the decrease is a virus that has killed nearly 100 percent of the baby pigs it infects.
The porcine epidemic diarrhea virusentered the U.S. for the first time last May. And a Kansas State University swine specialist says the pigs'feed may be contributing to the spread of the disease.
There's evidence that an ingredient in the feed may carrythe virus, however, there is currently no evidence that the feed itself is actuallyinfecting pigs.
Researchers are trying to stop the spread of PEDV, but they saythe new virus poses many challenges.
"It's a really, really difficult thing because from adiagnostic standpoint, the procedures and protocols and things to detect thisvirus are very new," explained Dr. Steve Dritz, Kansas State University swine specialist.
Researchers say the virus is mainly spread through the pigs' fecal matter, but are working to determine if, or how much of the virus is spread through the food.