We’re into the heart of show season in Oklahoma. In the fall we were trying to make everyone aware of the influenza issue and to ask them to take measures to not spread that disease. We all worked together to prepare for and prevent problems with that virus.
We are now faced with a disease that can potentially be more devastating to our swine producers, particularly those who breed and raise show swine. You are all aware of the disease PED (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea). This disease causes very severe diarrhea and vomiting in pigs three weeks of age and younger and in that class of pigs may result in 100% death loss. Many of our show pig breeders are farrowing at this time and introduction of this virus into their barns could possibly result in no pigs to sell for the fall show season.
Luckily PED does not cause severe illness in pigs of show age. The symptoms in older pigs are going off feed, mild vomiting, and mild diarrhea. Not all pigs show all the symptoms. However, older show swine are just as good at spreading the virus to other animals and with the milder symptoms a person might not even realize the show pig had the disease.
To my knowledge we have not seen any PED in Oklahoma show pigs, although it has hit show pig producers in states north of us and it is causing many deaths in our commercial swine industry in Oklahoma.
Please spread the word to all your contacts and any others you can think of who might help educate exhibitors, parents, producers, OSU Extension Educators, Agriculture Educators, and show organizers and managers in our schools and counties to be very careful when attending and exhibiting at jackpot shows, county shows, regional shows, breed specific shows, or any place where animals are gathered together. The virus that causes the disease is passed in the manure, vomit, and saliva of affected pigs, and can get on clothing, in bedding, on livestock, on trailers and equipment and can easily be carried home to infect breeding sows or baby pigs.
If a person has breeding animals they should isolate show animals from the breeding animals for five or so days after being at an exhibition. If the show swine are not showing any symptoms such as off feed, vomiting, or diarrhea after that time it should be safe to relax the biosecurity a little. They should always care for the breeding swine and baby pigs first, then take care of show pigs, and disinfect or put on clean clothes before coming in contact with the breeding swine again.
Show facilities that host multiple swine exhibitions would be well advised to remove all bedding and sand and thoroughly was and disinfect the premises between shows. Recent testing has shown that this virus can live in drinking water for at least one week, and in dirty, moist environments it may survive even longer.
I cannot stress enough how contagious this virus is, or how deadly it is to baby pigs. Please help spread the word to all people involved in swine and livestock exhibitions and the industry. Let’s do our best to help Oklahoma show swine producers in business.
Thanks for all your help,
Rod Hall, DVM - State Veterinarian, Animal Industry Services, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry