09/27/13 — Open Junior Market Hog Show canceled amid disease fears

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Open Junior Market Hog Show canceled amid disease fears

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 27, 2013 1:46 PM

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The Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair's Open Junior Market Hog Show was canceled this year because of disease fears.

DUDLEY -- Concerns over a disease deadly to young pigs prompted the cancellation of the Open Junior Market Hog Show that had been scheduled for Thursday night at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

Similar shows have been canceled in Sampson and Lenoir counties.

The fair's other livestock shows remain on schedule.

"This disease can wipe out entire farrowing operations," said Eddie Pitzer, the fair manager.

"Agriculture and the swine industry in this region, in our economy, we talked with a lot of the integrators to see what their concerns might be if we had a hog show, and the potential that it might have as far as spreading the disease. To be able to look out for the industry itself, we felt like the best decision was to cancel the hog show," he said.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, first identified in the United States in May, has spread to at least 17 states, including North Carolina, the nation's second ranked leader in swine production behind Iowa.

Wayne County ranks fourth in the state in hog production. Duplin County ranks first, Sampson County second, and Bladen County third.

Wayne County Extension Services Director Kevin Johnson said he is not aware of any cases being reported in Wayne County.

The locations of the reported North Carolina outbreaks have not been identified.

The virus does not affect people, or other animals and is not a food safety concern, according to an article by Dr. Barrett Slenning, an associate professor in the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Population Health and Pathobiology.

However, it is often fatal to young pigs and sick older hogs. On some sow farms, mortality rates of up to 100 percent in young pigs have been reported, he said.

According to the article, acute diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration begins within 12 to 36 hours of exposure to the virus.

The disease has been known in Europe and Asia for decades and the current version in the U.S. is believed to have come from China in April, Slenning wrote.

The disease is spread through manure.

Guidelines for producers and commercial manure haulers have been created by veterinarians and university experts working with the Pork Checkoff, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

"Out of an abundance of caution for the producers and the industry, we felt like it was the best decision," Pitzer said. "It was a hard decision. We had the kids line up. The Swine Showmanship Circuit also decided it was the best and other shows have also been canceled in Sampson County as well as in Lenoir County.

"Presently, I understand the State Fair is going to continue its hog show because that will be the last show of the Showmanship Circuit. That will be a terminal show. The pigs at that show will go to market. Here the pigs would be shown and taken back home, which kind of heightened the possibility of spreading the disease. Most of this disease affects younger pigs, but with it being so much uncertainty how the disease is spread and transmitted and a lot of diseases are transmitted either through people just walking through it. So we didn't want to take a risk on it and be a contributing problem."

Nearly 50 hogs were shown last year, he said.

"This year, because it (disease) has been a problem, there had been a decrease number in it," he said. "We had about 25 pigs scheduled. So we had already seen a reduction due to this (disease)."

The fair's other livestock shows will be held as planned, Pitzer said.

"Friday night is the goat show," he said. "It is on schedule. The lamb show is on schedule for Saturday and the beef heifer show is on schedule for Sunday."