A report of a positive test for deadly African swine fever among an isolated pig herd in Florida sent hog futures higher Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade.
"Hog and pork belly futures already were in an uptrend, so what this news did was heat up the market," said Chuck Levitt, an analyst in Chicago with Shearson Lehman Bros.
One blood sample taken from the herd indicated the presence of swine fever antibodies, which ordinarily would indicate exposure to the virus. However, further tests are being made for the presence of the disease, which is untreatable and usually fatal to pigs.
During a 1982 swine fever outbreak in Haiti, every pig on the island was killed to eradicate the disease there.
The disease never has been isolated in the United States and two previous reports in this country during recent months were proven false.
Tom O'Hare, a livestock analyst with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. in New York, said that despite the preliminary nature of the report, the futures market reaction was "oh, my God, there aren't going to be any pigs, they're all going to die."