Swine Virus is Causing Pork Prices to Increase

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COLUMBIA - A swine virus spreading throughout the US is causing the price of pork to rise. 

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, which was first recognized in England in 1971, came to the US in May of 2013.

PEDv can cause vomiting and diarrhea in adult pigs, and the virus is almost always deadly in young piglets.

According to a news release from University of Missouri Extension swine nutrition specialist Marcia Shannon, the virus "spreads through contact with contaminated feces and the virus appears to survive in manure for a long time."

Philip Peters Jr., owner of Shotgun Pete's BBQ Shack in Columbia, said he is worried people may not want to consume pork even though the virus cannot be spread to humans.

"It's perfectly fine. It's nothing that is going to affect you individually," Peters said. "Don't be afraid. The health department would have already pulled it off our shelves if it would have been an issue."

Peters said normally a case of pork butts is about $90, but now the prices are anywhere from $125-145 depending on the weight. 

One of the main reasons the outbreak is causing prices to rise is because of the mortality of young pigs. Because young pigs affected with the virus almost always die, they cannot grow into maturity, which is contributing to a shortage of consumable pork.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a quarterly report in late March that shows the disease is still spreading, but slower than the previous quarter.

So far Missouri has had 96 reported cases, which is fairly low compared to neighboring states. There were 1,646 cases reported in Iowa, the nation's largest producer of pigs, and 407 in Illinois.

Part of the reason Missouri has such a low number of cases is due to bio security measures farmers have put in place to prevent PEDv from spreading. Missouri has 3,000 farms with pigs susceptible to the disease. 

Moving forward into the summer months may be a good thing for farmers dealing with the disease. Livestock Specialist Daniel Mallory said the TGE virus which is similar to PEDv spreads much more quickly in the winter, but can be slowed by sitting out in the sun in the summer months.

Pork producers are advised to take extra precautions with feed and delivery trucks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Click here to learn more about PEDv from Pork.org