AGRIBUSINESS: U.S. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Outbreak

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Since May, the U.S. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus outbreak has spread across 18 states.  Nobody is sure where it came from.

Now veterinary scientists at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech believe they have traced the most likely origin of the virus.

The scientists think the virus comes from Asia, specifically China.  While other details about the virus are still hard to find, Veterinarian Dr. Lisa Becton with the National Pork Board says some researchers think the virus spread through feed.  The new discovery comes from fingerprints in the genetic code of different strains of the virus.

Becton says, "This virus is very much related, it's 99.4 percent related to the one identified in China. That's pretty clear both scientifically and through that genetic fingerprint, the feed side is a lot less clear it's suspect, but that's really all about we can say."

China is still struggling to contain its own outbreak of PEDV that began three years ago.  It is still unclear how exactly the virus arrived in the United States.

In their study, the Virginia-Maryland researchers highlighted unique genetic features common between a certain corona virus found in bats and strains of PEDV in Minnesota and Iowa, suggesting PEDV may have come from bat species.  This is a fact that the researchers say could help develop an effective vaccine.

PEDV is being treated as a production disease and nothing indicates that it threatens human health.