Deadly Diarrhea Virus Spreads to US and Sickens Pigs

pig.jpgPorcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), an illness that causes diarrhea in pigs and can be fatal, has been documented for years in Europe and Asia. Now the virus has spontaneously shown up for the first time on American pig farms.

Hitting five pork-producing states, including Iowa, the number one pork producer in the country, PEDV has sickened thousands of pigs and led to devastating losses–the virus can lead to death in young pigs. Farmers have been left bewildered. “We’re just trying to get a handle on what’s happening,” said Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. “It’s like drinking water out of a fire hose. We’re getting hits from all over the place.”

With the outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu) not too long ago, a virus that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and now PEDV, perhaps it’s time that pig farmers started considering the deplorable conditions they force pigs to endure on factory farms, and how it could be negatively affecting the animals’ and their own health. Pigs are routinely crammed into gestation crates–cages so small the animals can’t even turn around or lie down comfortably. They develop sores and become stressed, which weakens their immune systems. Additionally, they’re fed harmful drugs like ractopamine, as well as low doses of antibiotics, which create a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

You can take a stand against this awfulness every time you sit down to eat. Choosing healthy and compassionate, vegan meals is an excellent way to send a message to farmers that animal abuse has no place in the twenty-first century. For everything you need to get you started, visit