Disease sweeping through pig herd drives up prices of meat - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Disease sweeping through pig herd drives up prices of meat

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(04/10/14) - Your Easter ham could cost you more this year.

A disease sweeping through the nation's pig herd is killing baby pigs and driving up the prices.

The disease is called PED. It was first noticed in the U.S. last May.

A few months ago, it showed up in Michigan.

"It's one of the most infectious viruses that researchers say they ever had to deal with," said Sam Hinds, of the Michigan Pork Producers Association.

No one knows how the virus is transmitted.

"It's just a bad situation for pork producers because the virus, the way it manifests itself, small pigs that are less than a month of age, it's almost 100 percent mortality," Hinds said.

Some of the state's largest pig farms are on the west side of the state and the virus has been found there.

"I'm not aware that it's broken out in the Thumb, but it may have," Hinds said.

The good news is it doesn't affect the health of people.

"People can feel perfectly comfortable eating pork. Humans do not get it. Other animals do not get it. It seems to specifically affects pigs. Although big hogs get the virus, they recover," Hinds said.

Because there will be fewer pigs going to market, you'll pay more for everything from sausage to pork roast, maybe 10 to 15 percent more.

"It's going to make pork higher. Look already at the price of bacon. At some places it's up to $5.50 a pound. That's substantially higher that it was just a few months ago," Hinds said.

Beef prices are high, too, so consumers can't catch a break.

"I guess the message is everything at the meat case is going to be a little more expensive this year," Hinds said.

PED may have come from China, and there is no vaccine for the virus.

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