KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The US Department of Agriculture reported more confirmed cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), according to aReuters report.

For the week ending March 15, PEDv cases increased by 296 bringing the total number to 4,757, according to the USDA's National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN). One case can represent an individual animal or an entire herd, Reuters noted.

Steve Meyer, president of Paragon Economics and a Pork Checkoff consultant, estimated the loss of more than 5 million piglets since the virus was discovered in May 2013, with 1.3 million piglets succumbing to the disease in January alone.

The National Pork Board announced several new initiatives aimed at stemming the spread of PEDv among US pig herds. Meanwhile, pork processors are feeling the pinch in tight supplies of hogs. Sources at Smithfield Foods Inc.told Reuters the company plans to shorten its processing schedule to four days from five at its Tar Heel, NC pork processing plant.