Deadly Virus Impacts Pig Exhibitors at Wisconsin Valley Fair

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All of the pigs at the Wisconsin Valley Fair will go to market on Saturday during the Market Animal Show and Sale. The fair's terminal policy requires that all of the hogs being shown go for slaughter. It's just one of the many precautions the Livestock Committee is taking to keep the spread of disease low.

"They've had more biosecurity issues. They weren't able to do a pre-weigh-in, so they don't have a rate of gain, which is important when you have a market animal sale because people want to know what that rate of gain was in the animal that they're purchasing," said Heather Schlesser, a Marathon County Extensive Dairy Agent.

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) also has sellers hesitant to allow buyers on their farms.

"Some of the people they would normally purchase them from wouldn't let them on their farm because they didn't want the disease spread," said Schlesser.

"Everybody's very cautious," said Dathan Smerchek, a pig exhibitor. "When we were out selecting hogs this Spring, we went to a few places where we had to put on full plastic suits and disinfect our hands and boots before we could go in."

PEDv is a disease caused by Coronavirus, and causes pigs to have severe outbreaks of diarrhea and vomiting. The virus can rapidly spread from herd to herd by just carrying the disease on boots. To make sure the hogs are disease free, every one of them must have an animal health certificate. Which means a veterinarian has been out to check the animal and clear them for the fair. In addition to that, there are other safety measures in place.

"We're stressing the importance to exhibitors of hand washing, making sure that when they go home, they take off all of their clothes and take a shower before going into the barn. That way they're not bringing anything back home into the barn. We are going to be doing a testing at the end of the fair and possibly during it, to see if the swine are infected," said Schlesser.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service will receive $3.9 million towards developing a vaccine for the virus. Farmers in possession of infected pigs are required to report them to the USDA.

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