Monday, May 5, 2014

No Pigs, Piglets at the 2014 State Fair

Sow and piglets from the 2013 State Fair
From the state Department of Agriculture and Markets:

Due to a relatively new virus known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED), which has an extremely high mortality rate for piglets, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has decided to suspend the Sows and Piglets exhibit and competition and at the 2014 Great New York State Fair, said Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith.

"The health and safety of all livestock at the 2014 Fair is of paramount importance," said Ball. "We understand that some fairgoers may be disappointed, but we want the Fair to continue to show off the best in New York agriculture and we need to do so in the best possible way to protect the well-being of the animals in our care."

"Fairs in general are a challenging environment in terms of animal disease control, and a lack of vaccine that's been proven effective against PED makes the risk for piglets too high this year," said Dr. Smith.  "Animals come to the Fair from all over the state and with a disease like PED circulating, it's in the best interests of the animals that we take this action."

PED is relatively new to the US.  It first appeared in the Midwest in May 2013 and has since spread to about half the US.  Cases have now been identified in NY and 24 other states.  The disease has taken a heavy toll on the nation's hog farmers, having caused the death of an estimated 5 million piglets in just under one year.  

When sows and litters become infected, PED kills nearly 100 percent of piglets less than 10 days old, while pigs older than 10 days tend to recover.

As Dr. Smith noted, there is no vaccine yet to protect pigs against PED.   PED is caused by a Corona virus and is highly infectious to swine. The virus is shed in large quantities and the infectious dose is very small so cleanliness is critical. The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, in conjunction with the National Pork Board, has made a wealth of information available at: 

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