A deadly virus known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PEDv) has wiped out more than 10% of the US’s pig population in less than a year, sending pork prices soaring and putting the United States Department of Agriculture on high alert. And the worst part is that scientists have no idea how the virus works or where the highly contagious killer originated.

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According to a spokesman from Iowa-based Paragon Economics, consultant to the National Pork Board, over 7 million pigs have died since June 2013 due the virus, which has spread to over 30 states. So far, most scientists believe that PEDv is transmitted from pig to pig by contact with pig manure. “Something like a tablespoon of PEDv infected manure is roughly enough to infect the entire U.S. hog herd,” said Rodney “Butch” Baker, swine biosecurity specialist at Iowa State University, speaking to Huffington Post.

Related: Hundreds of Dead Pigs Pulled From Chinese Waterways Every Month

Luckily, research has revealed that PEDv does not pose a risk to humans. It is has also been found to be very similar to a virus that infected pigs in China’s Anhui province. As such, the National Pork Board is investigating whether the widespread use of pig blood byproducts in hog feed might be responsible for the outbreak.

So far, the National Pork Board has spent about $1.7 million researching the virus, which almost always kills young pigs and thrives in cold, damp environments. Unfortunately, it looks like there is no cure on the horizon. “There is no silver bullet for PEDv,” said Justin Ellis, marketing manager at Alltech, who is currently try to produce a feed that will stop the spread of the disease.

Via Huffington Post

Images by Olav Rokne and ** Maurice **