Play it safe during show season
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDV, is sweeping the U.S. hog industry, infecting swine through oral contact with infected feces. Though it poses no threat to humans, other animals or the food supply, this virus is causing a renewed emphasis on biosecurity protocols in the industry, with mortality rates in nursing pigs as high as 100%.
Though the first identified case of PEDV was in 1971 in Great Britain, the virus did not make its way to the United States until May 2013. By 1982, PEDV became endemic in Asia, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. The virus has now been identified throughout Europe, Korea, Japan and China.
PEDV generally has less of an impact on older, growing pigs that are headed to the show ring. But the National Pork Board’s PEDV update says pathogens have a much higher risk of getting passed on when animals from different locations commingle.
Follow proper protocols
Dr. Jeff Kaisand, assistant state veterinarian for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, says the state hasn’t made any further regulations regarding swine shows because of PEDV, but officials are focusing on outreach and answering questions about the virus.
If showing animals this summer, Kaisand advises to properly manage your livestock and follow responsible biosecurity measures to safely enjoy the event.
Some biosecurity measures Kaisand recommends are changing clothes from the fair to the home operation, establishing a “clean and dirty” line of separation, and evaluating the risks to your own herd.
Other possibilities might include letting the 4-H’er stay with a relative or a friend during the fair who does not own swine, splitting up chores differently, or staying away from direct contact with other animals. These efforts can help protect your operation from pathogens that may be present at show situations.
Isolation period recommended
At the show, be aware of the health of the animals, and contact a veterinarian if you have a concern. If you have animals coming home after the show, Kaisand says an isolation period of at least 30 days is widely recommended.
Kaisand says the biggest symptom of PEDV is diarrhea, and vomiting also may be a symptom. According to NPB, the virus can mimic transmissible gastroenteritis, or TGE. If you see diarrhea in your herd, contact your veterinarian. Tests will need to be run to confirm PEDV as the cause.
NPB, along with Jodi Sterle, Iowa State University Extension specialist, offers these tips for good biosecurity before a show, which can be incorporated permanently into your home operation:
• Bring only healthy pigs to a show. Observe them daily because the pigs will tell you a lot.
• Clean out the tack box and do it away from the barn or pigs. Remove any organic material, and then wash and disinfect all equipment used at the show — pails, brushes, waterers, whips, panels, gates and boots. Use a commercial disinfectant according to label directions and allow everything to dry.
• Clean truck cab and trailer. Remove organic matter, floor mats, gates and ramps. Then wash, disinfect and dry items.
• Take only the feed and shavings you will need. Leave anything not used behind. Don’t bring any feed or shavings home; it’s not worth the risk. To not waste feed, weigh and bag the amount of feed you’ll need for each day of a show. Add in a couple extra servings for a safety net.
• Pigs returning home should go into isolation if at all possible for at least 30 days, and 60 days is best. A shed or another room in a low-traffic area is good.
• Do the chores in the isolated area last each time and wash your hands before and after. Wear disposable boots and coveralls, and put them in the trash away from other pigs. Finally, be sure no equipment crosses out of this area.
Checkoff offers info
Fact sheets the pork checkoff has available include “Swine Health Recommendations: Exhibitors of All Pigs Going to Exhibits or Sales,” “Swine Health Recommendations: Organizers of Exhibitions and Sales,” and “Swine Health Recommendations: Biosecurity for Organizers of Weigh-ins or Tagging Events.” Other useful fact sheets, updates, research and resources on PEDV can be found online at pork.org/pedv.
Dittmer is a Wallaces Farmer intern.
This article published in the June, 2014 edition of WALLACES FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2014.