New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today (Aug. 19) urged swine owners in New York to take proactive steps to prevent the spread of Swine Brucellosis (SB).
A small number of pasture-raised swine herds in Washington, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties recently tested positive for SB. State and federal officials are working closely with those producers to investigate the outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease.
The commercial pork industry and other livestock are not known to be affected. Several swine herds that received animals from the positive herds have been blood-tested and found negative.
“Our department’s Division of Animal Industry, along with representatives from the USDA, has been thorough in their response to these findings," Ball said. "Staff continue to work hard to prevent additional animals from becoming infected. I urge every pork producer, breeder, and owner to adhere to best practices, reach out to the Department with any questions and remain vigilant to keep this serious disease from spreading.”
The greatest exposure risk comes from the movement of live breeding animals. The most effective way to protect a herd against this disease is for producers who are purchasing breeders, particularly those that are from pasture-raised or hobby operations, to isolate new pigs from their existing herd until blood-test results show that they have not been exposed to SB.
The disease is spread from one swine to another primarily through direct contact. The risk of infection through indirect exposure is very low.
SB is not always obvious in infected herds, but key signs in animals include abortions, arthritis and infertility. The fertility of boars may also be affected.
Feral swine or wild boars are believed to be the source of this disease in North America.
SB can also spread to people through close contact with infected animals. Local health departments are providing guidance to the owners of infected swine herds and their workers.
The Division of Animal Industry is prepared to assist any New York producer who suspects his or her herd may have been exposed to SB.
Swine herd owners who have received untested swine into their herds in 2015 or 2016, or who have observed symptoms of SB, or otherwise have reason to suspect that their herds may be infected, should contact the state Division of Animal Industry at 518-457-3502.