Pigs at the Wisconsin Valley Fair used in Statewide Research Project

Pigs at the Wisconsin Valley Fair are part of a statewide research project to see if a deadly virus, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, is present in our area.

Becky Wirkus, the co-swine superintendent at the Wisconsin Valley Fair, spent much of her morning on Thursday letting the pigs chews on a white, braided rope.

"It's a saliva test. The pigs chew on the rope, we ring it out the saliva and send it to the state," Wirkus says.

About 30 counties all across the state are participating in this particular type of PEDv testing.

Wirkus says, "We're just taking a sample, we're not targeting any one pig here."

If PEDv test comes back positive, the local extension will step in and work with farmers to make sure more bio-security measures are being taken.

All of the pigs at the Wisconsin Valley Fair were given a clean bill of health from a veterinarian and given an animal health certificate. This means no animals are displaying any symptoms of any diseases.

If any of these animal have PEDv, Wirkus says they've been successful in fighting it. This virus usually is fatal in younger pigs that are only 30 lbs. or so.

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.

Wirkus compared it to severe diarrhea in humans.

This is just one reason why the Wisconsin Valley Fair Hog show is terminal - meaning all animals must go for slaughter. This isn't just because of the PEDv concern. The show has been terminal for 20+ years and that stems back to the pseudorabies outbreak - which is also another deadly disease among pigs.

Even though exhibitors had to do things differently this year for bio-security concerns, Wirkus says it's a great learning experience. "It's a great hands on science application for the exhibitors to see this is how science works, this is how we collect data, and this is what we do with it."

To learn more about PEDv, you can click on the embedded link in the gray box.

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