Written by Michael Crowe, Multimedia Journalist - email
IONIA (KWWL) -
A virus that is deadly to pigs has been found in U.S. for the first time, and is present in Iowa.
The disease is known is as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. It's near 100 percent fatal to hogs under two weeks.
Leon Sheets has been raising pigs for 33 years. He just wants to keep his animals healthy.
"When we have health challenges, it's not good for anybody," he said.
And in the last few weeks, these challenges have been a growing concern for him. Now, he has instituted more decontamination procedures to protect his hogs. Sheets and his staff wear special clothes, scour trucks that transport hogs, and even shower before and after working with animals. This prevents cross-contamination between barns.
"Anything that we can do to prevent that getting in and affecting my farm and my pork population," Sheets said.
Luckily, the virus has not hit him yet. But if it did, he could lose nearly 3000 animals. That's about two months of income gone. And if deaths of young pigs leads to a shortage, pork prices could rise as well. If a shortage does occur due to the virus, it would come in late fall, when young hogs affected now would be ready for market.
Because of the dire consequences, Sheets isn't taking any chances.
"We're going to keep our animals healthy," he said. "We don't like these things affecting production."
The virus is not transmissible to humans, and meat from animals with it is still safe to eat.
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