CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. – The Jefferson County Fair Board is taking precautions to try to stop the spread of a deadly virus affecting pigs, canceling the pig show at the 2014 Jefferson County Fair.
According to the West Virginia University Extension Service, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, known as PEDv, is a disease that results in pigs suffering from diarrhea and vomiting and high death rates among the animals. Piglets that have not been weaned yet suffer the highest mortality rates from the disease, but swine of any age can contract PEDv.
The virus is spread when pigs make oral contact with infected feces. Trace amounts from farmers’ boots or truck beds can still pose a risk.
Pigs exposed to PEDv will begin showing symptoms of the disease within 24 hours of coming into contact with infected feces, and remain contagious to other pigs for three to four weeks.
Safety precautions include using caution when transporting or caring for pigs, keeping them in a clean environment and providing clean drinking water with electrolytes to help the pigs stay hydrated.
PEDv does not pose a risk to humans, as they cannot get the disease from contact with infected pigs or by eating pork products. However, consumers could see pork prices rise as pigs across the nation die off from the disease.
“This disease has been in China for a long time, but it’s relatively new in the U.S.,” said Keith Berkeley, a veterinarian with Valley Equine. “It came over to this country in April or May of 2013, when something contaminated was brought over, although no one is sure what that was.”
According to Berkeley, PEDv kills approximately 70 percent of pigs who contract the virus. He said PEDv is present in approximately 60 to 70 percent of swine herds in the U.S.
“As far as I know, there have been no confirmed cases in Jefferson County, but there have been reported cases in Ohio and Virginia. The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is asking that all pigs coming into the state have a certificate of inspection,” Berkeley said.
In April, United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement on PEDv and what the U.S. Department of Agriculture is doing to combat the spread of the virus.
According to Vilsack, the USDA will require cases of PEDv to be reported. Additionally, the USDA requires tracking of the movements of pigs, vehicles and other equipment leaving farms affected by the virus.
The USDA is assisting researchers in trying to stop the spread of PEDv by testing feed and working to create experimental vaccines.
Mel Johnson, the farm manager for Creekside Farms, a small hog-producing farm in Shepherdstown, said he has heard about PEDv but has not experienced any signs of an outbreak at his farm…