Pork prices on rise

Researchers trying to control the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Pork prices are on the rise, up 10 percent compared to last year.  Researchers are trying to control the spread of a particularly deadly disease known as PED, but now other viruses are also killing pigs.

"Enteric disease in pigs has turned into a huge, huge problem and we're developing all kinds of new assays to address the old problems but also the new ones that are just destroying everything," explained Dr. Dick Hesse, a swine specialist at Kansas State University.

Swine specialists and diagnosticians at KSU have developed tests designed to detect which diarrhea virus is infecting the pigs.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has already killed an estimated 6 million pigs. Now researchers are discovering other diarrhea viruses that have devastating effects on piglets.

The KSU diagnostic laboratory is one of about four laboratories in the United States with the new tests to identify the diseases. The researchers hope to find a way to stop the spread of these diseases before they become endemic.

"They're management tools is what they are and with enough information, you can make informed decisions and minimize the impact of the disease," said Hesse.

PED virus first entered the United States last May. Delta coronavirus, another diarrhea virus that kills about 30 percent of pigs it infects, was first discovered in the U.S. this January.

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