Pig disease has fair increase bio-security measures

HUGHESVILLE – It’s the pig disease that’s gripping the nation, otherwise known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) and it has county fairs and events developing stricter bio-security measures when it comes to dealing with pigs.

Tammy Koser, leader of the Keystone Kountry 4-H Club which specializes in livestock, has educated her club members extensively on bio-security and quality assurance practices.

“Bio-security and quality assurance are just good practices animal care wise. Things like disinfecting tools and keeping clean pens and animals. Anything you can to reduce the chance of spreading infectious diseases,” Koser said.

At the forefront of those infectious diseases is PEDV.

According to information released by the United States Department of Agriculture the disease causes vomiting and diarrhea in infected animals and usually results in death for “50-100 percent of infected piglets.”

The department confirmed that although the disease is common in parts of Asia and Europe it was detected in the United States and since detection in May of 2013 PEDV has persisted and spread to almost 27 states.

The department reports that the disease only affects pigs and does not pose any risk to people or pets and is not a food safety concern.

PEDV caused significant problems for Koser’s club members early on.

“Originally when it surfaced there was talk that pigs might not even be allowed at the fair,” Koser said.

That decision was overturned, Koser said, but the problems continued.

“A lot of pig farmers lost piglets this year so a lot of kids who wanted to raise a market animal couldn’t find one or couldn’t afford it,” Koser said.

4-H club member Rachel Danneker, of Williamsport, reports that finding piglets for her siblings and her to raise for market 4-H projects was tricky and expensive this year.

“We paid $75 last year but this year when we found piglets they were $100 each,” Danneker said.

Koser, Danneker and the rest of the swine exhibitors at the fair are taking every step they can to prevent the spread of PEDV.

“We’ve cleaned the pens every day. We keep our pigs clean and disinfect everything. And we don’t share tools,” Danneker said.