UNDATED (KTIV) - A deadly virus is sweeping farms across the country, and here in Siouxland, targeting pigs and hogs.
Experts say the problem is getting big enough that it will soon start to affect people who don't just raise pigs, but buy pork products.
While humans are completely immune to this virus and it doesn't have any effect on food safety, it's causing hog farmers to lose thousands of pigs. And that could mean everyone will start paying more at the grocery store.
It's called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PED.
It affects one in ten pigs in infected sow units, but has nearly a 100 percent mortality rate in newborn pigs, killing them in about 12 hours.
PED first appeared in the United States in April of 2013, and now it's all over the country.
Bill Tentinger, a pork expert in Iowa, says some meat packing plants in North Carolina are shutting down one day a week because of the shortage of pig supply, meaning people could soon be out of jobs, and pork will be high in demand, driving prices up.
Tentinger says it's about to get just as bad here.
"Most of the sow units in Northwest Iowa, to my knowledge, have been affected. They're fighting it one way or another. There's just a select few that have not had it yet," Tentinger said.
While there is no cure for the virus, newborn pigs can be protected if the virus is fed to sow units, naturally immunizing them.
Tentinger says that by limiting contact between hogs and making sure equipment and clothing are cleaned thoroughly every day, hog farmers can limit their chances of having their hogs become affected.
"Biosecurity is key. Keeping the facilities closed up, not letting any strangers, anybody like that in the facility, doing a lot of changing of clothes, changing of boots, and washing hands is very important in these facilities," Tentinger said.
He says he doesn't see the situation escalating severely until about May or June, but did say that once Siouxland hits the point of hog deaths that's being seen in the East, it could start affecting Siouxland's jobs and economy.
Tentinger said that if a vaccine isn't discovered, this epidemic could last for a year or two.
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