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Tracking a Virus

Searching for Clues to a Virulent Virus that Changed America's Hog Industry and the Price of Pork

Piglets eat from a trough at a farm in Vermont in 2013. Piglets eat from a trough at a farm in Vermont in 2013. PED, or Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, was first found in the U.S. in August of that year. (Photo: Toby Talbot | AP)
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In the spring of 2013, hundreds of baby pigs were dying off and nobody knew what was making them so sick.

As a deadly virus hopscotched across farms, researchers went to work as disease detectives, hoping to contain, identify and track the cause.

The virus was identified as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea, never before seen in the U.S. It killed millions of piglets, cost the pork industry roughly $1 billion and sent prices at the grocery store soaring.

Harvest Public Media spent months examining PED’s outbreak, piecing together interviews, government reports and public documents.

What we found is an intriguing international mystery about an emerging virus so virulent it could withstand the rough ride from China to the States, possibly by latching onto a common cargo container. We also found an industry struggling to prepare for PED to possibly decimate the industry a second time.

Follow the story as Harvest Public Media, a partner with KCPT, tracks the virus. Look for the two-part series this Saturday, Dec. 19 and Sunday, Dec. 20 on Flatland.

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