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Pig virus migrates to US, threatens pork prices

DENVER — Pork prices may be on the rise in the next few months because of a new virus that has migrated to the United States, killing piglets in 15 states at an alarming rate in facilities where it has been reported.

Dr. Nick Striegel, assistant state veterinarian for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said Wednesday the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, also known as PED, was thought to exist only in Europe and China, but Colorado and 14 other states began reporting the virus in April, and officials confirmed its presence in May. The virus causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and severe dehydration in pigs, and can be fatal.

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‘‘It has been devastating for those producers where it has been diagnosed. It affects nursing pigs, and in some places, there has been 100 percent mortality,’’ he said.

Striegel said the disease is not harmful to humans, and there is no evidence it affects pork products.

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