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Hog producers take steps to guard against deadly virus

(Reuters) — Concern among the top U.S. hog-producing states over a virus that is killing millions of baby pigs has reached such an extent that officials at an industry gathering in Minnesota this week swabbed the trade floor to test for the virus.

Meeting organizers in Iowa are relying on producers’ knowledge of basic biosecurity measures to guard against spreading Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv.

The Iowa Pork Congress, billed as the country’s largest winter swine trade show and conference, expected nearly 300 exhibitors and hundreds of hog producers to convene on Wednesday and today in Des Moines.

“We feel that we’ve gotten the word out about PEDv and the need for increased biosecurity enough in the last year,” said Ron Birkenholz, spokesman for Iowa Pork Producers.

PEDv has killed an estimated 1 million to 4 million pigs across the U.S. “Hog Belt,” with cases reported in 23 states. South Carolina is the most recent state with confirmed cases, according to the USDA’s National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

The virus, spread by fecal matter, can be transmitted by pigs as well as by inanimate objects such as boots, clothing and trucks. Other than increasing biosecurity measures, the U.S. pork industry is still grappling with means to contain the virus.