Friday, February 21, 2014

Deadly virus threatens hog farms; Humane Society objects to feeding sows remains of dead piglets

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that a deadly pig virus that is leading to industry financial losses and potentially higher pork prices for consumers, and could have a greater impact on the nation's hog supply than previously thought, Meredith Davis reports for Reuters. Porcine epidemic diarrhea has been confirmed in 25 states and three Canadian provinces, and has resulted in 3,528 confirmed cases of PED as of Saturday. USDA defines a case as "multiple animals at a single farm site or at several locations." 

The virus, which doesn't affect humans and is not a food safety risk, "kills 80 to 100 percent of piglets that contract it," Davis writes. "Some U.S. meat companies have said that the virus is driving up hog prices and cutting the pork supply by 2 to 4 percent. In the United States, the world's largest pork exporter with a 65.9-million-head hog herd, retail pork prices still hover near record highs, and losses due to the virus are expected to keep boosting hog futures prices. Analysts and traders have estimated up to 4 million pigs died from the virus, but the hog industry does not have an official death toll, because cases are reported voluntarily." Several research facilities are working on vaccines. (Read more) (Human Viruses graphic: Cumulative number of swine samples in the affected US states testing positive for PED)
On Thursday the Humane Society of the United States alleged that through an undercover operation, it videotaped a hog farm in Western Kentucky feeding sows ground-up intestines of piglets who died from the virus, which it said is a violation of state and federal animal-handling regulations. The society's vice president, Paul Shapiro, said "state and federal regulations prohibited feeding garbage, except for household waste, to swine," writes Janet Patton of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The Humane Society presented its findings to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Stout, whose office will investigate the claims, told Patton that feeding piglet remains to sows, "while it seems like a crude practice, it is long-accepted immunization practice. It has a history of being effective, especially in the absence of a vaccine."
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"Richard Coffey, director of the University of Kentucky Research and Education Center and a state swine extension professor, said the PED inoculation treatment used by this farm was necessary," Patton reports. He told her, after viewing the video, "I didn't see anything in there that indicated those animals were being abused." (Read more)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

you DO NOT FEED dead animal remains to animals, especially domesticated ones for human uses - dead animal consumption is the realm of scavengers - vultures, opossums, coyotes, etc - I could go on . . .