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Deadly pig virus confirmed at Utah hog farm

Published September 3, 2014 1:26 pm

Agriculture • Utah swine producers asked to increase animal health security.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The highly contagious livestock disease called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, has been detected at the Circle Four Farms in Beaver County.

"The farm in question is Utah's largest hog farm and one of the largest in the country," according to a news release issued Wednesday from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, which did not specifically name Circle Four.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Service Laboratory confirmed the presence of the virus that causes significant sickness in young swine, affecting their growth and health, and causes high mortality in piglets.

Circle Four Farms raises and markets 1.2 million hogs annually at its farm in Beaver County. Its parent company is the Virginia-based Smithfield Farms.

"We want to make sure that consumers know that the virus does not affect humans and it doesn't affect other livestock," said Patty Goff, Circle Four's communications manager. It also doesn't affect food safety, she said. "Pork is completely safe to eat."

The USDA has agreed to work with state veterinarians to fund testing "to assure that stringent animal biosecurity practices are in place," the news release said.

PEDv is not a new virus; it's been found in countries worldwide. It is common in parts of Asia and Europe and was first reported in the U.S. 16 months ago.

Since then, more than 5,500 cases have been reported in as many as 30 states, including Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona.

Acting State Veterinarian Warren Hess is advising Utah hog and pig producers to remain vigilant regarding their animal biosecurity practices. "Increased animal health security measures can not only help defend against PEDv, but can also prevent the spread of many other livestock diseases," he said.

In May, the UDAF issued an emergency order intended to protect the state's $200 million swine industry by placing restrictions on livestock shows involving hogs and pigs. The order required any fair or show to be a "terminal" show, which means that after the show, swine would go directly to slaughter and reduce the threat of spreading any disease.

The order also pertains to the upcoming State Fair running Sept. 4-14 in Salt Lake City.