Quantcast

PED Epidemic Death Toll Reaches 5 Million, Hog Industry Scrambles for Solutions

Food

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. 

[blackoutgallery id="323679"]

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.

Risky Disposal 

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

A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less
The climate crisis often intensifies systems of oppression. Rieko Honma / Stone / Getty Images Plus

By Mara Dolan

We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.

Read More Show Less