Michael Gottschalk—Photothek via Getty Images
March 14, 2014 8:10 AM EDT

It sounds about as bad as anything you can imagine: “Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea.” PEDv, for short, is a virus that first appeared in the United States last year, reports Reuters. A harsh winter has seen the animal disease, which causes pigs to become sick in a way similar to a human stomach virus, spread to 27 states. In the last year, PEDv has killed four to five million pigs; it’s particularly deadly for piglets, killing 80% to 100% of infected babies.

The good news: humans can’t get it. It’s not the “swine flu” that broke out in 2009, for example. However, the epidemic may ultimately end up affecting your dinner table if the crisis worsens and pork prices rise as a consequence. “While it has absolutely no impact on food safety, it has clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers,” the president of the National Pork Board said in a statement.


Contact us at letters@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories