SALT LAKE CITY — The swine virus that is threatening pork production nationwide has not reached Utah.
State officials said no cases of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, known as PEDv, have been identified in the Beehive State and one state veterinarian believes the spread of the illness may be declining.
"Our veterinarian says there are no cases in Utah," said Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. "State pork producers are aware of the epidemic in other parts of the country and have taken steps to protect their herds."
The department's vet said the epidemic is lessening around the country, he added.
Lewis said that the state's largest pork producer is in a very remote area of Utah, where contact with other pigs is controlled, and it hasn't reported any problems. "Pigs entering Utah must come from a non-infected area, and show proof that they are not sick themselves," Lewis explained.
Fortunately, local swine populations have not been exposed to the illness thus far.
The virus, which has never been seen before in the U.S., has killed millions of young pigs in the past 11 months. Officials said with little known about how it spreads or how to stop the virus, it's threatening pork production in a number of states and pushing prices higher by 10 percent or more across the country.
Scientists think porcine epidemic diarrhea, which does not infect humans or other animals, came from China, but they don't know how it got into the country or spread to 27 states since last May. Federal agriculture officials are investigating how such viruses might be spread, while the pork industry has committed $1.7 million to research the disease in an effort to prevent any additional spread.
The virus is believed to have killed between 2.7 million and more than 6 million pigs in the past year.
Contributing: Associated Press