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Fairs review biosecurity for 2014 swine shows

By Staff | Jun 5, 2014

It’s probably safe to take your pigs to county fairs this year, according to Dave Stender.

A swine specialist for Iowa State University Extension in northwest Iowa, Stender said exhibitors need to continue sound biosecurity practices – especially as a major means for halting porcine epidemic diarrhea virus spread – as they prepare for swine competitions.

In fact, spread of the virus is slowing down, and while Stender said he couldn’t say there is no risk of PEDv appearing at the county fairs, “I look at it as a non-issue.”

Exhibitors can greatly reduce the risk of contracting or spreading PEDv by complying with one of two biosecurity directives, he said.

One set is for 4-H and FFA exhibitors, their parents and the public, and a second set was created for fair swine committees and fair boards.

The directives were prepared by Extension swine specialists Mark Storlie, Matt Swantek and Tom Miller with a final review by Dr. R.R. Baker, an Extension’s senior clinician for veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine.

Stender said the guidelines outline effective biosecurity for PEDv and other swine diseases including practices “designed to prevent the introduction and transmission of diseases and disease-causing agents into and between (swine) herds.”

He said the guidelines recommend that swine event coordinators, swine committees and fair boards consider fairgrounds as “being PEDv positive,” but “shows should not be canceled because the presence of a disease, because other swine diseases could be present.

Business as usual

County fair presidents for Plymouth, Sioux, Buena Vista, Cherokee, Calhoun and Webster counties said they are familiar with the show guidelines and are comfortable with proceeding with their usual swine competitions.

Cherokee County Fair Board President Brad Nelson said that fair has always been a terminal show, meaning fair animals exhibited are sent to market following the fair.

He said exhibitors will need to follow biosecurity procedures such as necessary boot changing and non-mingling of fair swine.

Both Marcus Community Fair and Buena Vista County Fair will hold their swine shows as usual, although at least one local producer who produces show swine young showmen is opting to drop his involvement this year because of PEDv.

Kelly Meyer, president of Calhoun County Exposition; and Rick Carter, president of the Webster County Fair Board; said they will continue with normal fair swine competition events “without change” in the events.

Sioux County and Plymouth County fair boards also voted to proceed with swine competitions.

Commercial swine showmen will operate under “the honor system” for hogs they bring to the show with regard to any PEDv exposure.

Spencer will also hold its swine show, according to Jeremy Parsons, Clay County Fair manager; and Dave Simington, fair board president.

They said they have the same biosecurity protocols as the last 10 years.

“There’ll be no changes,” Parsons said. “It will be just another year of doing what we’ve already been doing.”

In Des Moines, Lori Chapell, marketing director for the Iowa State Fair, said all is in place for a successful swine show and early indications indicate a normal number of exhibitors taking part with show officials following protocol established in the past under direction of Dr. David Schmitt, Iowa state veterinarian.

Learning opportunity?

Baker, who reviewed and approved the biosecurity protocols, said he sees the PEDv outbreaks as “a real teaching opportunity for fair boards, kids showing their pigs and parents of the exhibitors.

“The disease has spread through the mainstream swine industry like wildfire, and whatever happens at our county fairs is highly unlikely to have any impact on that portion of our industry.

“The Iowa Pork Industry Center is dedicated to helping improve the health, welfare, and productivity/profitability of the Iowa swine industry. A part of that also includes the show pig and the people involved with that endeavor.”

Guideline development was an opportunity to teach both groups about the importance of biosecurity both at fairs and for preventing bringing diseases back to the farm

“We did some similar things last year,” Baker said, “with … PEDv and swine influenza and other potential pig diseases.

“No guidelines are perfect, but we hope these will help keep PEDv at bay and avoid clinical diseases at the fairs” and eliminating the incidents of carrying viruses back to the farm.

PEDv cases decline

A drop in the number of positive tests for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus as of May 17 shows a total of 187 for the week ending May 17, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

The figure brings the total number of confirmed cases to 6,804 and the lowest level since early January of this year.

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