Swine epidemic spreads to Oklahoma pork producers

Prestage Farms in the Oklahoma Panhandle has experienced significant losses since the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDv, spread this summer.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: September 24, 2013
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In the case of a swine virus affecting pork producers, being the state “where the wind comes sweeping down the plain” could be devastating.

Around 1.3 million hogs have been killed by the virus, known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PEDv, since the disease was discovered in the U.S., according to a Reuters story. And there is evidence the virus — which humans can't get — is carried by wind.

Prestage Farms' hog farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle experienced “substantial” losses in June as the virus spread through its herd, said General Manager Greg Stephens.

“For three to four weeks, just about everything born died,” he said. The virus affects nursing pigs and has a mortality rate of 80 percent to 100 percent. Most die within 72 hours from dehydration associated with diarrhea.

In the Reuters article, John Prestage, senior vice president of Prestage, described how 30,000 pigs died “in the blink of an eye.” Seaboard Foods, a large pork producer with hog farms near Guymon, wouldn't say how many of its piglets have died from PEDv, but researchers found the virus in air samples taken nearby.

Workers can spread the disease by tracking contaminated manure on their shoes from one truck to the next as hogs arrive at the processing plants, explained Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director at the Oklahoma Pork Council.

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by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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What is it?

What is Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv)

• Affects only pigs, posing no risk to other animals or humans. It also poses no risk to food safety.

• First recognized in England in 1971; first found in the U.S. in May.

• Transmitted via the fecal-oral route, causing acute diarrhea within 12 to 36 hours of onset.

Source: National Pork Board

If it wasn't airborne, we have no idea how it got in.”

Greg Stephens,
Prestage Farms general manager

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