There has been a lot of news regarding this new virus that has been affecting the U.S. pork industry.  The disease has spread to farms in 22 states, killing thousands of small pigs and therefore, driving up prices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lean-hog futures rose to a 7-week high a week ago, up 6 percent since mid-December.

In the wake of this news, there’s one concern a lot of people may be having: Is this virus dangerous to humans?

I want to be very clear about this: The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus - or the PED virus - is a type of a coronavirus that is unique to the porcine species.  This disease affects pigs by giving them gastroenteritis, an infection of the intestines that leads to diarrhea and dehydration. The virus is especially dangerous for small piglets, and it’s highly contagious - like any viral disease.

So the good news is it does not affect humans in any way, shape or form.  In fact, the virus does not affect any other animal.  

Pork meat is safe to eat, and therefore, consumers should not be afraid to continue eating pig products that are being sold in U.S. supermarkets.

Like any other meat product, proper food hygiene and cooking procedures are still relevant, but don't be afraid as you hear stories about PED that this virus could affect your health or the health of your family.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit for more.