This summer you might be paying more for your summer brats and hotdogs

A virus infecting swine herds could result in a smaller supply of pork this summer.

The bacon on your breakfast table might cost more because of a new disease affecting swine herds in the United States. In April 2013, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) was found in some United States swine herds. This virus which has been infecting piglets and sows (mother pigs) is new to the Unites States swine population.

PEDv is a production disease. It does not affect the quality or safety of the pork products and this information should not cause concern among consumers. The virus only affects pigs and does not infect human populations.

PEDv is similar to other viruses that affect swine with severe watery diarrhea which causes dehydration and in turn affects the survivability of suckling piglets. Christine Miller, owner of Spartan Country Meats of Webberville, explained that, “One day the animals look fine and the next day they seem to be wasting away.” Miller further explained that she had to work hard to find a breeder that had piglets available for her farm to insure production through the summer.

The virus is more fatal to piglets, but adult sows or hogs can also be affected. Farmers, veterinarians and the agriculture industry have been persistent in finding best methods for dealing with the disease, ensuring proper animal care and well-being for their animals. Michigan State University Extension swine educators have been working to educate producers and consumers about the need to take precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.

PEDv has been active over the winter months in Michigan and pork producers have experienced some losses in productivity. This shortfall of production is nation-wide and may be felt by consumers in the summer months. The expectation is that availability of pork products will be less and may equate to higher prices in the grocery stores. Beef production is also experiencing some shortfalls in productions and this could also raise the price of products. As a result of higher beef prices, consumers may choose to select a less expensive meat option, such as pork, for their tables. This could also increase demand for pork and result in higher prices for ham, bacon and other pork products. 

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