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Pig virus disrupts US trade more than expected, says USDA official

Trapped feral swine are pictured in this undated handout from the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They cause about US$1.5 billion (RM4.8 billion) of damage every year to farm communities and fields, say department officials, and now there are worries they may help spread a deadly pig virus. – Reuters pic, June 5, 2014. Trapped feral swine are pictured in this undated handout from the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. They cause about US$1.5 billion (RM4.8 billion) of damage every year to farm communities and fields, say department officials, and now there are worries they may help spread a deadly pig virus. – Reuters pic, June 5, 2014. The impact of a deadly pig virus on US trade is mounting, with 11 countries limiting imports of live hogs and one banning pork imports, the US Department of Agriculture's top veterinarian said yesterday.

El Salvador, Guatemala and South Africa have banned imports of live US hogs following the discovery of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv) in the United States last year, John Clifford, the USDA's chief veterinary officer, said.

China, Japan, the European Union and Russia have restricted hog imports, while four other countries have imposed unofficial limitations, he said.

Uzbekistan has banned imports of US pork, while Costa Rica has banned imports of pork casings.

"This is beginning to have a much greater impact than what any of us initially thought that it would," Clifford said about PEDv at an industry gathering in Des Moines, Iowa.

PEDv has wiped out an estimated 10% of the US pig population in the past year.

The USDA has tried to calm concerns among trading partners about the virus, which the agency says does not threaten humans or food safety.

The EU last month said it would require any pig blood products imported for use in pig feed be kept in storage for six weeks at room temperature to ensure any PEDv is deactivated.

"We told them that's way too long for the product to need to sit," Clifford said.

The United States last year exported about US$6 billion (RM19.43) worth of pork and US$30.5 million worth of live hogs. – Reuters, June 5, 2014.

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