The good news is, PEDv, as it’s called, can’t hurt humans who ingest an infected pig, and isn’t a food safety issue. So there’s that.
But in order to have that pork chop or ham sandwich in the first place, a healthy pig population is necessary on hog farms. And that might be a bit harder if the virus can spread through previously infected farms, as one Indiana farm confirmed, reports Reuters.
Since PEDv first showed up a year ago, it’s wiped out around 10% of the hog population — about 7 million pigs — and pushed up pork prices. And while many farms reported initial outbreaks, none had publicly acknowledged a second, until now. The Indiana farm confirmed the news through its veterinarian this week.
The assumption held by officials was that pigs could develop immunity to PEDv after getting it once, sort of like the chicken pox, or at least not get it again for several years. It’s almost always fatal to baby pigs, prompting researchers to try to extend immunity to piglets through female hogs.
“It happens and it could happen again,” Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford of the U.S. Department of Agriculture told Reuters of secondary outbreaks. “We need to practice good bio-security, cleaning and disinfection, all-in all-out, in order to break the cycle and prevent its re-emergence.”
Retail pork prices have set record highs since the outbreak, records which could likely be broken themselves if there’s a second wave of outbreaks, killing even more hogs.
“If you have that disease, it causes a huge death loss, and then you get it again,” said Josh Trenary, executive director of Indiana Pork. “It’s pretty clear why it would be concerning.”