Virus killing millions of baby pigs and raising pork prices

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) A deadly virus that is decimating hog breeding operations in more than two dozen states has farmers limiting visitors to their farms and disinfecting all equipment, even trucks. PED or Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea attacks very young pigs still at the suckling stage. There is no known cure.

The virus is not a threat to food safety, but it will hit consumers at the supermarket as pork production drops this summer and prices rise. At least five million piglets have already died in the past year.

Breeders Freddie Grohmann of Cedar Ridge Farms near Red Bud, IL has kept his operation virus free. But it is impacting his export business to China. ‘China is going to hold off on letting live animals come into China until the two governments can decide a testing protocol,’ he said Thursday.

Tony Clayton, president of Clayton Agri-Marketing Inc., a Missouri based livestock exporter, has contracts to ship four thousand live breeding hogs to China that are on hold right now. Not every country is barring American piglets. Clayton said he just returned from escorting a shipment of piglets to the Philippines.

‘This is making everyone take a close look at their bio-security, even when they go to town,’ he said. Hog breeding farm employees are being asked to shower, change into new clothing and shower when they leave. Boots and car floor mats can carry the virus and that may have been the way the disease spread through the U.S. Agricultural experts believe it came from China.

Veterinarian Dr. Dwight Boehm is watching Grohmann`s livestock closely. ‘We`re not seeing any clinical signs of the diarrhea,’ he said.

Warm weather may help curtail the virus, however the damage to pork supplies in the pipeline has already been done and consumers could see a 30% jump in pork prices this summer.

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