Since it was first detected on a farm in Ohio last may, a killer virus of mysterious origin has been been spreading unabated on pig farms throughout the U.S., leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Experts say that so far as many as 7 million animals have perished from the virus, known as PEDv.
All told, that accounts for more 10 percent of the nation's entire pig population.
The highly contagious disease, which has now spread to pigs across 30 states and Canada, attacks a pig's small intestines, making it impossible for the infected animals to absorb vital nutrients or water. Young pigs are especially vulnerable; the virus is virtually 100 percent fatal in pigs under three weeks old.
While the virus poses no threat to humans, pig farmers have been reeling from the losses, which have driven pork prices up to record highs.
"If you have four weeks of mortality in a PEDv break, that's pretty devastating to the financial well-being of that operation," said hog farmer Greg Boerboom, to Reuters. "I think most producers are scared. They stay up at night."