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USDA: Reporting Hog Deaths Required

04/18/2014 @ 10:45am

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it will require the pork industry to report incidents to the government of a deadly swine virus that has killed millions of young pigs and roiled the sector in the past year.

The USDA will require the tracking and reporting of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which has afflicted hog farms in nearly 30 states, in an effort to slow its spread, officials said.

The virus, first identified in the U.S. last spring, isn't yet part of a list of diseases that must be reported under international standards that are aimed at coordinating disease control. The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health sets such standards, requiring its 178 member nations to report diseases that have been shown to cause significant mortality in wild or domestic animals.

"USDA is taking this latest action due to the devastating effect on swine health since it was first confirmed in the country last year," Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement. "Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers."

The agency will call on the assistance of swine veterinarians to help develop monitoring and control procedures to slow the spread of the virus, the USDA said.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, is fatal only to young pigs and poses no threat to human health or food safety, according to scientists. The U.S. strain is nearly identical to a version that curbed hog production in China in 2012.

The government didn't give a timetable for when the requirement would be imposed.

The USDA also said Friday that it will require the tracking and reporting of swine delta coronavirus, another disease that has emerged in the U.S., affecting at least 10 states.

U.S. hog farmers and veterinarians have reported incidents of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus only voluntarily up until now. Through April 12, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, which tracks diseases, reported the total number of positive tested cases for PEDv at 5,790 in 29 states.

Each case may represent anywhere from one infected animal on a farm to thousands across a producer's operations. The U.S. has about 68,300 hog farms, according to federal data.

Because pork producers haven't been required to report each incident, the extent of the impact on the pork industry has been unclear. Some analysts have estimated that about 5 million pigs have been killed.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 18, 2014 11:03 ET (15:03 GMT)

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