Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) is a newer swine disease that first entered the United States in May 2013, and is now causing major economic loss to some hog producers, as well as impacting several other aspects of the swine industry. PEDV is deadly to baby pigs from birth until about three weeks of age, and infected swine herds can suffer a 75-100% loss of baby pigs for a four to five week period. PEDV poses no threat to humans, or has no food safety impact on retail pork supplies.
As of March 12, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network reported 4,458 confirmed PEDV cases in the U.S., with at least one case in 27 different states. Iowa has the most confirmed cases with 1,521, followed by Minnesota with 701 cases, and North Carolina with 486 cases. The top 10 states in pork production account for over 85% of all the PEDV cases in the U.S. The number of confirmed PEDV cases in the U.S. grew by 352, or 8.5%, from March 1 to March 12. It is estimated that 4-5 million baby pigs have been lost from PEDV in the U.S. during the past 9 months.
The causes and spread of PEVD are still largely unknown, and there are currently no known vaccines to prevent the initial occurrence of PEVD virus; however, many university and pork industry scientists are working on identifying the causes and on developing a vaccine. Producers that have been impacted by PEVD try to build up immunity in their sow herd, hoping to prevent future PEVD outbreaks. All pork producers have also been ramping up biosecurity efforts in their operations, in order to prevent transmission of PEVD. These efforts include employee practices, limiting access to facilities and sites, changes in trucking procedures, and even limiting contact with other producers.
Hog market prices have reached all-time highs in recent weeks due to concern over PEDV, with April lean hog futures prices on March14 closing at $119.30 per hundredweight, and the June futures price at $127.85 per hundredweight. This translates to about $230-250 per market hog produced. While there will be a significant economic loss for hog producers that have been impacted by PEVD, the sharp rise in hog market prices will lead to much higher profits for other producers. The combination of the record hog market prices in 2014, along with the lowest feed costs in several years, will likely result in the highest profit margins per market hog sold since 2005. The reduced hog numbers this spring and summer, which will result from the PEVD outbreak, will also likely lead to higher consumer pork prices and reduced pork availability at the retail level.
Some U.S. Senators have called on USDA to declare a “disaster area” in states that are most severely impacted by PEDV. The recently passed 2014 Farm Bill continued the livestock disaster program provisions that were part of the last Farm Bill. This included the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), which covers livestock losses from natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and blizzards, as well as potentially from catastrophic diseases. USDA is currently reviewing how the current PEDV outbreak could possibly qualify for potential disaster assistance, and what help may be available to producers.
The National Pork Board and the Minnesota Pork Board have launched major efforts to assist producers with the impacts of PEVD. The National Pork Board has dedicated an additional $650,000 in funds related to PEVD research and control. The Pork Board is also spearheading a new collaborative effort between producers, veterinarians, the feed industry, and others in the pork industry in the fight against PEVD. To access the resources available, and to monitor the latest developments related to PEVD, go to the National Pork Board website.