While there are no harmonized measures currently being rolled out, countries in Europe are preparing for the worst in case a deadly pig virus reach their territory, with France already taking its preliminary steps.
On Saturday, the France government issued a ban on imported live pigs, by-product of pigs, and pig sperms from the United States and other countries amid the onslaught of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv).
Earlier, China and Japan have imposed "temporary restrictions" on hog imports from the U.S.
Though the virus does not affect the humans or even the food, it has already killed roughly seven million piglets in the U.S. in the past year, bolstering prices of pork in the U.S. market. The virus is reported to have been found in parts of Canada, Mexico, and Japan as well.
"We are just watching with horror how it is rampaging across America, and no one in Europe seems to be the least bit interested," said Britain's National Pig Association general manager Zoe Davies, in an interview.
While older pigs survive, PEDv proves too lethal for weaned pigs, with fatality rates running between 80 to a hundred percent. The virus is from the Coronaviridae family and it primarily attacks the piglets' guts, preventing them from absorbing fluids and leading to death by dehydration.
In the 1970s, Europe has its first encounter with the PEDv but an epidemic was unlikely since it was only a milder strain that eventually disappeared over time.
"It has obviously mutated and become more voracious. Effectively, our herd is naive (has no immunity) if we get it," Davies said.
Large amounts of the virus go down with the pigs' feces, and if left unchecked especially during the cold weather, chances of transmission is likely to go higher. A small heap of excretion the size of a thimble could actually infect all of 66 million-head U.S. hog herd in the United States.
The virus can also spread through transportation especially if no hygienic measures are implemented, experts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded after conducting a study that assessed the risk level of harvest facilities and transport vehicles as factors of virus transmission.
Experts also suspect feed for pigs as another culprit in the rapid spread of the virus, as the dried pig blood that is mixed in the feedstuff may not be heated enough to kill the virus, if there is any.
It remains unclear, however, where the virus originated but there are suspicions that it may have come from China as strains collected from the eastern country showed similar behavior with the PEDv.