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May 15, 2014

Oklahoma’s pig farmers hope to contain deadly virus

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OKLAHOMA CITY —

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

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

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.

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