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So far, no hog disease at fairs

July 25, 2013 | 0 comments

So far, with the county and local fair season in full swing, Wisconsin has not yet experienced any problems with the swine disease that caused people to get sick last summer.

Darlene Konkle, DVM, is the Assistant State Veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. During a report to department board members last week, she said that there have been a dozen or so cases of that hog disease affecting people in Indiana.

But there has been no word in Wisconsin yet this summer of illness in either pigs or people.

The H3N2 variant disease in hogs was of concern to the animal and human health communities last summer because it can spread from pigs to humans. During fair season many more people are exposed to hogs and the disease can spread.

State animal health officials worked with public health officials last summer on a series of educational sessions and got a lot of information out about hygiene and biosecurity and she believes that those efforts may be helping to keep the disease in check this summer.

Konkle told board members that state veterinarians are also on the lookout for another hog disease called porcine epidemic diarrhea or PED. It's a new viral disease that is found primarily in Asia but as of June 1 it had been found in Iowa and Minnesota.

"It looks like a disease we already have, which makes it a little trickier to diagnose but a difference has been determined."

It's important to pork producers because it causes mortality in piglets and is very contagious - hence the name with epidemic in it, she said. "But it can be managed with biosecurity."

The disease doesn't rise to the level of what animal health officials call "reportable" and it is not what would be called a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) in regulatory jargon. "It's not like Foot and Mouth disease," the vet said.

Most of the investigative work on the disease is focused on how it got here and officials are trying to sort out animal movements that led to the disease's presence in Midwestern hog farms.

Laboratories are working on sequencing the DNA of the virus that is causing the disease as part of that investigation, she said.

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