The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
PED Epidemic Death Toll Reaches 5 Million, Hog Industry Scrambles for Solutions
An estimated 5 million hogs have died since the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) was discovered last May, and federal officials along with industry experts are scrambling to control the continued spread of the disease, reports Reuters.
This slideshow exposes the reckless disposal practices of an industrialized swine facility in North Carolina hit with the PED virus. Warning: The slideshow contains graphic images that may be unsuitable for some viewers.
Confirmed PEDv cases increased by 296 during last week alone, bringing the total number to 4,757, according to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). The discrepancy between the relatively small amount of cases and the high death toll is that one case can represent an individual animal or an entire herd at one site.
To stem the spread, U.S. and Canadian hog industries recently developed partnerships to research whether feed or feed ingredients factored into the transmission of PEDv, the National Pork Board said this week. The report from NAHLN does not include test results from feed samples.
Even though the disease is spreading, the number of affected states remains at 27, the animal researchers said.
"Unfortunately it has spread rapidly this winter, especially here in Ohio," Duane Stateler, Ohio Pork Council president and hog producer, told Reuters.
PEDv, which doesn't directly affect people and is not a food safety risk, causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in pigs. While older pigs have a chance of survival, 80 to 100 percent of piglets die from the virus.
"The smaller the pig the harder it is for them to recover and come back," added Stateler.
The spread of the virus has already decreased market ready hog supply in the Midwest and along the East Coast, forcing some pork packing plants to cut back their slaughter operations.
Midwest pork packing facilities are weighing several options of either cutting the work week, trimming daily operating hours or eliminating overtime in order to reduce overall production.
Last week, Smithfield Foods suspended hog slaughter at its Tar Heel, NC, plant, which has a high slaughter capacity, as PEDv has tightened hog supplies.
Last month, Waterkeeper Alliance and North Carolina Riverkeepers called on the state's Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, to protect public and environmental health against the swine industry’s handling of the PEDv outbreak.
Burying dead pigs in mass graves is common practice in mass casualty events, and Waterkeepers has raised concerns that areas of the coastal plain, where most infected swine facilities are located, stand a high risk of shallow groundwater and nearby waterway contamination.
“While we understand that PED cannot be directly transmitted to humans, the massive numbers of pigs that have died from this virus pose a significant concern to the public health if not disposed of properly,” said Gray Jernigan, North Carolina-based staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance. “There is currently little to no government oversight of carcass disposal in the midst of this epidemic, and we are calling on the state to take action as authorized by law to protect the citizens of North Carolina.”
Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH pages for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.
'This Should Scare the Hell Out of You': Photo of Greenland Sled Dog Teams Walking on Melted Water Goes Viral
By Jon Queally
In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.
By Tia Schwab
It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.
'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation
By Julia Conley
Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.
Tens of Thousands Flee Extreme Heatwave in India as Temperatures Topping 120°F Kill Dozens Across Country
By Julia Conley
Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.
By Will J. Grant
In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.
People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.