Each week, the destructive porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) seems to spread further into the United States, but Nebraska, one of the nation’s largest pork-producing states, remains untouched.
Dr. Bruce Brodersen, assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says that UNL’s Veterinary Diagnostic Center is prepared to test piglets for the virus.
“Since the swine population has never been exposed before to this virus, they’re very susceptible,” Brodersen explained. “The disease outbreaks are very severe because there’s no immunity to it at all. So, it’s been devastating as far as pig mortality is concerned.”
Although only 400 cases of PEDV have been confirmed in U.S. labs, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of hogs already have died because of the virus.
Nebraska hog farmers are hoping that they can avoid the outbreak until a vaccine is found. According to a USDA report, as of June, Nebraska has 3.1 million head, making a virus outbreak highly devastating for the national pork industry. A hog shortage would also affect the thousands of people working in Nebraska’s hog slaughter industry.
A vaccine isn’t available in the U.S. yet, so in the meantime, farmers can only prevent the disease by practicing strict biosecurity.