Decades of curious tremors in piglets have been traced back to a virus uncovered by Veterinary researchers at Iowa State University. Pork farmers have been routinely stumped by the quaking of of some piglets that has led in some cases to an inability to feed and eventual starvation.
Researchers have identified the virus as a member of the ‘pestivirus’ family that effects piglets leading to the quaking and tremors.
While both vets and farmers have been identifying the issue for decades this has been the first time medical advances have been able to identify its cause. “It’s been a mystery in the veterinary community for over 90 years,” said Bailey Arruda from Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine department. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the technology to find the virus before.”
Researchers used newly available DNA sequencing techniques which allow testers to search without identification of a prior target as used in previous methods. “But that approach wouldn’t be useful in this case because we didn’t know exactly what we were looking for,” said Arruda.
Having identified the virus based on samples the research will be extended to samples collected from local veterinarians. These extensions will confirm the new theory through the use of other genetic sequencing methods. The hope is for researchers to be able to create a vaccine to prevent further infections in young pigs. Veterinary researchers have stressed that the virus is uncommon and does not infect humans, nor make pork unsafe to consume.