The virus that could hike bacon prices

A deadly scourge has spread from China and Europe to the US, striking pigs in 15 states.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 11, 2013 12:18PM

File photos of pigs (© photontrappist/Flickr/Getty Images)Meet the rapidly spreading virus that might goose your bacon and pork prices: porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PED. 

The virus with that all too descriptive name was previously thought to exist only in China and Europe, but apparently it immigrated stateside this spring, The Associated Press reports.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the country's first case in Iowa. While it's not transmissible to humans, the virus has an astounding 80% to 100% mortality rate in piglets, with symptoms including diarrhea, fever, vomiting and, yes, death. The virus has now spread to 15 states at an alarming rate, AP reported. 

"It has been devastating for those producers where it has been diagnosed," Dr. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for Colorado's Department of Agriculture, told the news service. 

Already the market hog inventory is slightly lower than last year's because of a drop in Canadian imports and the outbreak could lead to tighter inventories, Nation's Restaurant News reported. That would result in higher prices for pork, requiring consumers to shell out more for bacon, chops and ham. 

There's no evidence that the disease affects pork products themselves, Striegel told AP. So far, it has been detected in states ranging from Arkansas to South Dakota. 

Unfortunately for bacon lovers, there's no vaccine for PED in the U.S., although cures exist in Japan, South Korea and China. 

For pig farmers, the most delicate time is before piglets are weaned at 3 weeks of age. After that, mortality declines dramatically, the National Pork Board's Dr. Lisa Becton, the director of swine health information and research, told AP. She added that it's not clear how the virus spread to the U.S. 

Becton added: "We know for individual farms the impact is severe, especially if it's a sow farm that has baby pigs, because baby pigs do suffer the most from the disease."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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Tags: Food
Jul 11, 2013 1:42PM
With the drought in the western states the price of beef went up due to feed costs,people started to buy more pork and chicken so now there's a problem in the pork industry,how soon before there's also a problem with the chickens to make that price also increase???
Jul 11, 2013 1:10PM
Just another excuse to raise prices! It's strange that whenever the price is raised on a product because of a problem,then there's always enough of that product!! The price of pork products is high enough! There is a lot of waste in bacon! After 16 oz of bacon is cooked,there is usually only 7 oz left to eat!That's more than half of waste considering the price!
Jul 11, 2013 1:10PM
So basically bacon is going to cost as much as nice steak...
Jul 11, 2013 7:12PM
If the virus only affects pigs, I better go warn my ex.
Jul 11, 2013 2:18PM
Hold on here just a second. Aren't he areas of the mid west and southern states that are overrun with feral hogs? Wasn't here a show a while back about hunting these oversized beasts? Hmmm? Any ideas as to what to do with this virus when hunters can't put a dent in their population? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?
So the prices will go back down once the virus is cured? Yeah right!
Jul 11, 2013 7:05PM
if there is a cure in Japan, somebody go get for here,
Jul 11, 2013 7:04PM

Yeah, yeah, just like the bogus meat shortage of the 70s.

Make anything up to raise prices because the average American isn't squeezed enough, right?

Jul 11, 2013 7:11PM
My doctor says he'll take statin drugs before he gives up his bacon!  Let's see, there are cures for this disease in pigs in Japan, China and the Philippines but it's not available to us? This whole thing smells worse than a pig farm! Time for the bureaucrats to get off their -ss-s and cut through the red tape to get this cure available here and prevent the high prices that no one can afford anyway. Anyone want to bet whether they will do that or not though? Sounds like a preventable problem being used as an excuse to jack up meat prices even higher than they already are.
Jul 11, 2013 7:11PM

Just another excuse to drive up the price of food?  Beef is already grossly over-priced, while pork is cheap.  Chicken used to be cheap, but also went up in price. 


Hey, Smithfield, your sale to the Chinese just blew up?

Jul 11, 2013 1:20PM
I heard NYC is going to start taxing bacon anyway, as it's such a health hazard, and the federal government is considering regulating its recreational use .... can eggs be far behind !!!
Jul 11, 2013 7:12PM
So if cures exist in Japan, South Korea, and China , why can't we buy the vaccines from Japan South Korea and China?  Our government is on some really bad crack!!...  "Um we have a problem with  pigs and a cure does exist but we don't have it here so I guess all the little piggys will die off" ..the really sad thing is that WE voted these dorks  into office
Jul 11, 2013 1:10PM
Hear we go, they've been trying to get pork prices up for a while now. Figuring they would think scaring everyone will create a run on pork. Get me a shovel because someone is full of pig PED pucky!
Jul 11, 2013 12:57PM
This virus only affects pigs?  Sounds like I'll need to stock up on more toilet paper.

Rosie O'Donnell
Jul 11, 2013 7:26PM
There is always something to justify higher prices. Coffee failure in Colombia. Total BS. Oil refineries being shut down total BS. Pork virus, total BS. Pork has been the cheap meat. The pork future investors demanded their fair share. We will as always take it up the A**!
Jul 11, 2013 7:14PM
If I could afford some bacon I'd have bacon and egg's if I could afford some egg's.....  
Jul 11, 2013 6:19PM

In all seriousness, this really isn't any kind of laughing matter...

They tell you it's not transmitable to humans, they always do..

But pigs and humans do share some diseases and are anatomically similar in some respects.

They are used a lot to test human type drugs..

It would be very sad to see millions of little pigs, die off in this Country..

It would destroy the Hog price markets..

It will raise the prices on all other meat in the Marketplace.

It will destroy hundreds of Farmers...

And I want safe food in this Country.


Jul 11, 2013 1:49PM
I love my bacon.How dare they mess with my bacon.
Jul 11, 2013 4:30PM
After my first clogged up artery and heart attack I stopped eating bacon like a little piggy!!! So I wont miss it! But I do miss my bacon lettuce and tomatoe sandwitches in the summer time!
Jul 11, 2013 2:16PM
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