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Deadly Pig Virus

April 9, 2014, 10:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Deadly Pig Virus

A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of baby pigs across the country, including here in South Dakota. State Ag Officials estimate between 100,000 and 150,000 pigs have already died and producers are doing all they can to stop the virus from spreading.

It's called the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.

"Very concerned," hog producer Steve Rommerein of Alcester said.

Scientists believe it came here from China. How it got here, no one knows.

"Where it came from is important, but the fact that it's here is what we have to work with right now," Steve Rommerein said.

Rommerein also serves on the state's Animal Industry Board.

"We definitely imported it, because it wasn't in our borders a year and a half ago," Rommerein said.

The virus can easily be transmitted on everything from shoes to dust,

We haven't been faced with a virus that's been this resilient for a long time, there's no vaccine? Not yet.

As a result, hog producers have stepped up their bio-security by quarantining their pigs. 

"It's very, very hard to get within a half mile of a sow barn right now, if you don't work there, because you can't afford to have traffic," Rommerein said.

It's also affected his day to day operations.

"You're showering a lot before you go in your barn, you're showering when you come out trying not to spread this thing around," Rommerein said.

It's important to know the virus doesn't affect humans or food safety, but it could affect how much you pay for pork products at the grocery store.

"Our prices that we are getting for our pigs we sell are way up, because the supply is down and generally that translates into higher prices at the stores," Rommerein said.

Meaning the virus will affect a lot of us soon.

Again, the virus doesn't affect food safety and humans can't get sick from it. Rommerein says scientists are working on a vaccine to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

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