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Business & Economy

Fatal Swine Disease Could Strike NC Hog Industry

A North Carolina hog house being kept cool by large fans.
Bob Nichols, USDA NRCS

A fatal swine disease is striking the nation's hog industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PED is usually deadly for baby pigs. Its symptoms resemble dysentery, and it's spread through bodily secretions. Tom Ray, director of Livestock Health Programs for the state department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says so far, there have been only four confirmed cases in North Carolina. He expects the impact for farmers and the state's economy to be significant.

"We provide baby pigs on a regular basis -- like 10 to 15,000 a day -- to about 17 other different states," Ray says. "So if this becomes really widespread, you're going to have fewer baby pigs, fewer big pigs eventually, less bacon, supply and demand thing and there you go."

North Carolina has more than nine million pigs, with nearly 2,500 hog farms bringing in more than $3 billion in sales each year.

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