Wisconsin takes steps to slow spread of pig virus

Pig
File photo. (MGN Online/GNU image)

LA CROSSE (AP) – Wisconsin’s state veterinarian banned spring weigh-ins for pigs competing at fairs and recommended pigs that any pigs shown be sent immediately to slaughter to prevent the spread of a deadly swine disease.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed as many as 4 million pigs in 23 states since it showed up in the United States last April, the La Crosse Tribune reported Thursday. Wisconsin has seen six cases thus far of the disease that causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in swine.

State veterinarian Paul McGraw acted after the number of confirmed cases increased again last week. Nearly 40 percent of the cases have been in neighboring Iowa.

Officials with the La Crosse Interstate Fair are trying to decide what to do with the 150 to 175 pigs that event draws each year. Typically, the fair includes both swine raised for breeding and others meant for slaughter.

McGraw has said the state could step in with fairs that don’t send pigs to slaughter this year, possibly quarantining animals and selling them for slaughter if the virus is found.

Steve Huntzicker, agricultural agent for the La Crosse County UW Extension, said fairs have until April or May to see if the virus keeps spreading and then make a decision on how to handle pigs. The La Crosse fair is in mid-July.

“People will need to be patient as this gets worked out,” Huntzicker said.

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