COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- A deadly virus is taking its toll on the nation's pork producers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates about 3 percent of the nation's pigs have been impacted by the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PED.
"The Ohio Department of Agriculture says we've had several hundred cases in the Buckeye State, so the number of pigs lost would be well into the thousands," said Joe Cornely with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
The disease has been detected in 27 states since showing up in the country last May. It is nearly 100 percent lethal to young pigs and is less in older pigs, which still get sick.
Cornely says the origin of the disease remains a mystery, although there are plenty of theories about how it got here and how it is being spread.
For consumers, the effects are being seen at the grocery store.
"The Department of Agriculture says that bacon, for instance, is up about 13 percent over a year ago. However, there are other pork cuts where it's not nearly that much of an increase," Cornely said.
Overall, pork prices are expected to rise by two to three percent this year, which Cornely says is typical.
The USDA said it would commit $5 million to fight the disease, boosting the $1.7 million research effort already begun by the pork industry. It also will require farmers to report cases of a similar disease, swine delta coronavirus.
"While this is certainly harmful to the pork industry and is costing us all a little bit at the grocery store, it's important to know this is not a human health concern nor is it a food safety concern," he said.
Cornely is hopeful that the warmer weather will help with the effort to control the spread of the disease.
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)