The Edmond Sun

State News

May 14, 2014

State’s pig farmers hope to contain deadly virus

OKLA. CITY — State ranchers celebrating the arrival of 8 million piglets this spring are wary of their fate, as the pork industry faces the threat of a virus that is deadly for the youngest in their herds.

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has destroyed about 5 percent of Oklahoma’s pig population within the past year, pushed up pork prices by nearly $70, and raised concerns that this year’s largest agricultural gatherings could facilitate its spread if people aren’t careful.

The virus, which passes among pigs following contact with feces, does not pose a threat to humans, food safety or other animals. But it has a nearly 100 percent mortality for piglets that contract it. And there is no vaccine.

The National Pork Producers Council estimates the PED virus has killed 7 million pigs in 30 states since it was first detected in the United States last spring.

In Oklahoma, pork producers have contained the virus to the northwest corner of the state and the Panhandle region. “And we hope it stays that way,” said Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council.

In just that region, the virus has killed about 430,000 piglets and infected as many as 185,000 sows on the commercial side of the industry in the past year. The loss of those piglets cost Oklahoma’s pork industry nearly $100 million, Lindsey said.

“The impact has been tremendous,” he said. “There is also tremendous emotional impact for the people on the farms when you’ve got hundreds, sometimes even thousands, dying at a time.”

Though no cases have been reported in his district, state Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, vice chair of the Senate’s Agricultural and Rural Development Committee, said those in the industry are “very conscious” of the virus and taking precautionary measures.

“What they’re trying to do is keep it confined so it doesn’t spread,” said Justice, adding that anytime so many animals die it creates a huge economic impact on the state.

“It’s devastating to the industry,” he said.

So far, only one show-pig operation has tested positive for the PED virus, Lindsey said.

At this point, the virus isn’t expected to affect the youth animal shows at the state’s largest fairs in Oklahoma City and Tulsa — both start in September — or the county fairs. But officials are closely watching the situation, said Rusty Gosz, youth livestock specialist in Oklahoma State University’s animal science department.

“We’re still learning a lot about it,” he said. “It’s one of those viruses we don’t have a vaccination for. Our biggest avenue to really anything proactive about it is to really stress our bio-security measures.”

Agriculture officials are reminding participants in youth fairs and their families about the importance of quarantining animals when they return to the farm; changing clothes and shoes when they return home from shows; washing hands; and decontaminating trailers or “anything that could be contaminated with or co-mingled with manure.”

Gosz said officials are encouraging youth to monitor the health of their animals before heading to county and state fairs. Many pigs that contract the virus also acquire a fever.

“Just like you wouldn’t take your sick kid to school, hopefully, we would treat our hogs the same,” he said.

While a massive problem for the pork industry, Gosz said the virus hasn’t had the same affect on the pig show industry. The consequences, for one thing, aren’t as large.

In addition, Gosz said the timing of fairs is lucky. Most fall so late that most piglets will be grown, he said, hopefully minimizing any impact.

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • police car.jpg Enid man injured following pursuit

    Larry Lynn Edwards was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center following the 11:32 p.m. crash on 30th Street, just north of Fox Drive, with head and internal body injuries.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Texas man critical after ATV crash

    Edward Alan Bourland, 37, of San Angelo, Texas, was taken from the scene of the 3 p.m. collision by Eagle Med and flown to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

    July 26, 2014

  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • MS_Andy Billups.jpg Local man relies on experience in July 4 emergency

    Andy Billups just happened to have gained experience as a combat zone firefighter/medic while he was serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq.
    The Edmond businessman just happened to have a friend with a place on Grand Lake where he has been viewing Independence Day fireworks for a number of years, and he just happened to be there July 4.
    And he just happened to be relaxing on a hammock when he heard a some kids making a commotion.
    Located two blocks east of Disney on State Highway 28 in the foothills of the Ozark Mountain Range in northeast Oklahoma, the 59,000-plus surface acre Grand Lake is known for its state parks, marinas, restaurants, motels and fishing.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Goo Goo.jpg The Goo Goo Dolls: A long way from making racket

    Group in concert with Doughtry and Plain White T's Aug. 5 at the Enid Event Center

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Navy Honor_1_BV.jpg ‘She’s my rock’: Family honors sailor who goes beyond service

    Kimberly Henry has a job in Navy intelligence and beyond that, has committed to hundreds of hours of volunteer work throughout her tours of duty.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Quake rattles Helena area

    July 25, 2014

  • Oil-Covered Owls_2_JN.jpg Oil-covered owl dies: Oil field tank site investigated

    Jean Neal and her husband, Jim, of Fairview, have been caring for the owls, which were covered in oil, since Tuesday when they received them from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • peach formatted.jpg Hard year for peaches doesn’t dampen summer tradition  

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they’ve come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.
    Like the aging water tower, Porter’s peach industry isn’t as vibrant as it once was.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MS_weather graphic 1.jpg Chances for rain to follow triple-digit highs

    Chances for rain on multiple days will follow near triple-digit highs during the weekend.
    A National Weather Service-issued heat advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday and afternoon temperatures are expected to top out in the upper 90s to lower 100s into the weekend. Maximum heat-index values will range from the upper 90s to 105-110 degrees through Sunday.
    Cooler weather is expected next week as a strong cold front passes over the region.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo