MACON, Ga. (AP) — The state's first known cases of a potentially deadly pig disease have been tied to an event at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.
Two samples from the Georgia Junior National Livestock Show tested positive for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, and three positive samples since then have been tied to the show, state veterinarian Robert Cobb said Wednesday.
Though the disease is highly contagious among pigs, it is not a food safety or public health risk, Cobb said. That means news of the disease in Georgia is bad for hog farmers and for the hogs themselves, but not for regular consumers.
The disease, known as PEDv, has been detected in most of the country, Cobb said. Georgia has been testing for it across the state for a year but didn't detect it until the show, held Feb. 18-21. The first positive results came back Feb. 27. An additional three samples have since tested positive and are tied to the show.
The show was attended by students in 4-H and Future Farmers of America, who are raising the pigs for shows. It hasn't been detected in commercial operations yet, Cobb said.
State inspectors were checking animals as they were unloaded. But PEDv incubates in 36 hours, while symptoms don't show for four to five days. That means animals that were already sick appeared healthy, he said.
"Animals came into this junior animal show with no sign of disease, and during those days they developed symptoms," Cobb said.
In all, about 1,300 pigs were present at the show, along with more than 500 exhibitors. Any of the pigs, exhibitors or guests could have spread PEDv, which can be carried on things such as clothing, boots and trucks. Cobb said producers need to follow biosecurity rules, cleaning and disinfecting equipment, clothing, vehicles, trailers and other objects. That means establishing a clean-dirty line so producers "have control of what comes and goes, and you can require disinfection and cleaning," Cobb said.
Symptoms of PEDv include animals that aren't feeding, have vomiting or diarrhea, or suffer from increased mortality, particularly among baby pigs. People who suspect the disease should immediately call their private veterinarian and report to the Georgia Department of Agriculture at 404-656-3667. More information on PEDv is available at agr.georgia.gov/animal-health.aspx.
Last year, Georgia had about 153,000 pigs worth about $18.4 million, federal statistics show.