To make matters worse, a new strain of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, has been identified in Illinois and Missouri, a veterinarian at Iowa State University said, Reuters reported.
PEDv is a highly contagious and potentially fatal pig virus that causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration. It is transmitted orally and through pig feces.
The virus does not affect humans, however, and federal officials have determined that meat from pigs that survive the virus is safe to eat.
Though older pigs have a small chance of survival, the virus kills 80 percent to 100 percent of piglets that contract it. Up to 5 million pigs may have died from the virus, according to industry analysts' estimates.
Some U.S. meat processing companies have said the virus, first discovered in the United States in April 2013, is beginning to impact their bottom lines as it contributes to higher-priced pork and is trimming U.S. hog supplies.
The United States is the largest pork exporter and Iowa is the top pork producer.
Almost every piglet born on Craig Rowles' hog farm near Carroll died from the virus that swept through his herds in November, causing $462,000 of lost revenue in the first month of the outbreak. By the end of February, he expects to lose 15,000 animals, or 10 percent of annual sales, Bloomberg reported.
With production constrained because of the virus, prices are rising. Hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange jumped 11 percent in January, the biggest monthly gain since March, and prices touched 95.25 cents Wednesday (Feb. 5), the highest since July 9.