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State and Nation Business

Hundreds of cases of pig virus reported in Ill.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois agriculture officials say there have been hundreds of cases in Illinois of a deadly pig virus that's been spreading across the country for the past year.

Through March, 360 cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea were reported, according to a story in The Springfield State Journal-Register. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just announced last week that hog farmers would be required to report the virus.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed millions of pigs in 27 states since showing up in the U.S. last May, with Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina being hit hardest. The disease has been blamed for recent increases in bacon and pork prices. Farmers have struggled to control the virus, because little is known about how it spreads and there is not yet a federally approved vaccine.

Believed to be from China, PED poses the most risk to newborn piglets, which die from dehydration. It does not infect humans or other animals.

Tim Maiers, director of industry and public relations for the Illinois Pork Producers Association, said the virus has spread throughout the state and is impacting large and small farms.

"It's hard to determine how it's moving," he said. "One farm has it, but the one next to it doesn't. Then it shows up on another farm that's fairly isolated."

Nokomis hog farmer Phil Borgic said the virus reached his farm in early January.

"We lost 100 percent of our production for four weeks. None of the piglets made it," Borgic said.

He said the farm's been taking extra steps to clean the facilities and wash down the animals to prevent the spread of the infection.

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