Ag briefs: St. Louis encephalitis reported in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Farmer


St. Louis encephalitis virus reported in Wisconsin resident

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that a confirmed human case of St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) disease in a resident of Dane County, the first reported case in the state since 1981.

SLEV is related to West Nile virus (WNV) and, like WNV, is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. SLEV is not transmitted person-to-person. SLEV is rare in Wisconsin, with only six human cases reported between 1964 and 2018 and no major outbreaks ever reported in the state.

Most people infected with SLEV will not have any symptoms. Those who do become ill may develop fever, headache, nausea, and fatigue that last for a few days. When symptoms do occur, they typically begin between five to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In rare cases, SLEV can cause severe disease with symptoms such as stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, inflammation of the brain, and coma. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk of severe disease from the virus.

There is no specific treatment for SLEV other than to treat symptoms. If you think you have SLEV or another mosquito-borne illness, contact your healthcare provider.

Mosquito activity has essentially ended for the year, so there is currently little to no risk of mosquito-borne illnesses in Wisconsin.


Fire kills 100-plus cows in two barns on upstate NY dairy farm

A fire in two barns on a northern New York dairy farm has killed more than 100 cows but officials say dozens of other cattle were rescued.

Fire officials say the blaze was reported around 2:50 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at a farm in the Clinton County hamlet of Ellenburg Center, about 10 miles from the Canadian border.
Ellenburg Center Volunteer Fire Department Chief Colin Wall told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh that a 300-foot-long barn and an adjacent structure were both fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived.

While most of the cows were killed, Wall said people already on the scene were able to get 40 to 45 cattle out of the burning buildings, which were completely destroyed.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.


Maine, Michigan team looks to root weeds out of organic ag

Scientists from universities in Maine and Michigan are getting a boost from the federal government in researching weed management on organic farms.

Organic farms use a more limited scope of weed management tools than conventional farms, and the weeds are a threat to crops and profitability. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing more than $1.9 million for the scientists to research weed controls on organic vegetable operations.

University of Maine weed ecology and management professor Eric Gallandt and Michigan State University sustainable vegetable production professor Dan Brainard are leading the work.

Gallandt is proposing a "cultural weed management" method that focuses on depleting the reserve of weed seeds in soil and using cultivation tools that reduce the weed populations over time.


Students raise funds for destroyed farm

The owner of a historic Vermont dairy farm that was destroyed in a fire is rebuilding with the help of a local elementary school.

Local 22 reports Rosina Wallace was distraught when she learned the fire that burned down her family's farm had also destroyed two farmhouses and killed 23 cows and calves.

Thatcher Brook Elementary students are giving back to the Waterbury farm that offered outdoor lessons. Students have raised over $500 to help with the rebuilding project.

Wallace says she is using the funds to buy materials for a barn. The barn will house farm equipment and a new calf. Wallace hopes the barn and an apartment are up before winter.


Police officers babysit escaped pig, feed it snacks

Police officers in New Jersey say they found an escaped pig and fed it snacks until its owner came to pick it up.

Wanaque Police Capt. Kenneth Fackina says the pig had been spotted wandering around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Fackina says officers found the pig and fed it a few snacks — which the animal appeared to enjoy — until the owner came by to walk the pig home.

Fackina says he doesn't remember having to respond to a call like this in the past three decades, saying "27,000 calls so far this year but none of the other 26,999 entailed any pig wrangling." Fackina say the pig escaped from its owner's backyard and "decided to take a little walk."