By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In an expected move, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced new measures to combat the spread of disease in the U.S. pig population.
The agency said it would require reporting of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed millions of piglets over the past year, and the Swine Delta Coronavirus.
USDA will also require tracking movements of pigs, vehicles, other equipment leaving affected premises. Movements of pigs will still be allowed.
"USDA has been working closely with the pork industry and our state and federal partners to solve this problem. Together, we have established testing protocols, sequenced the virus and are investigating how the virus is transmitted," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
"Today's actions will help identify gaps in biosecurity and help us as we work together to stop the spread of these diseases and the damage caused to producers, industry and ultimately consumers."
PEDv has killed more than 4 million young pigs since first being identified in the United States a year ago. More than 4,000 outbreaks have been seen in at least 30 U.S. states as well as Canada.
The virus causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, and is transmitted orally and through pig faeces. While older pigs have a chance of survival, the virus kills 80 to 100 percent of piglets that contract it.
Major meat producer Tyson Foods has said the epidemic could lower U.S. pork production by 2 to 4 percent.
Last month Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork processor, suspended one day's kill at a North Carolina slaughterhouse because of a tight supply of hogs attributed to the spread of PEDv.
USDA says it continues to work with the pork industry and with state and federal partners to develop responses to the PEDv and Swine Delta Coronavirus.
PEDv poses no risk to human health.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Sandra Maler)