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North Carolina Continues To Grapple With Deadly 'Piglet' Virus

PED Virus
Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance

The New York Times reports Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or PED virus killed an estimated 100,000 young pigs each week across the country since the virus was detected last May.

North Carolina continues to suffer.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says, no doubt, PED has been a nasty virus and has taken an emotional and financial toll on hog farmers.

But the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance has been pushing the state to step up its mass disposal and burial plan of the PED infected piglets and even declare a state of emergency.  Larry Baldwin runs the Waterkeeper Alliance office in New Bern.

“So when you’re burying that many animals in the ground we are concerned about the impact to the quality of the groundwater, the drinking water," said Baldwin.

Baldwin says some three million piglets have likely died in North Carolina since this virus struck.  Ag officials say the number of new infections has been on the decline.

Waterkeeper Alliance regularly takes aerial photographs across eastern North Carolina documenting alleged open piglet burial sites.

"If the state is not willing to put forth the effort to really find out what's going on, how do we let the neighborhoods that are impacted by these facilities understand what, if any, impact it could have to their drinking water or to their surface water," said Baldwin.

Meanwhile, Harrisvaccines, based in Ames, Iowa, was recently granted United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conditional licensure of the company's PEDv Vaccine, RNA.  The license allows Harrisvaccines to sell RNA directly to the veterinarians and swine producers battling PED.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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