Livestock premise IDs help fight against pseudorabies outbreak

US - Pseudorabies does not infect humans. In 2007, two swine herds in Wisconsin have tested positive for pseudorabies (as of April 23).
calendar icon 30 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Which of these two statements catches your attention?

For most, the safety of humans is paramount. For the swine industry, there is an additional, legitimate concern that the reappearance of an old disease might significantly impact their industry.

For the rest of the food animal industry, this incident should amplify the importance of livestock premise ID and the risk a disease outbreak might pose.

Pseudorabies (not related to rabies) is primarily a swine disease that is transmitted from pig to pig through mucous and saliva. Usually this is through nose-to-nose contact, but it can be spread through manure, feed and facilities. Pseudorabies causes death in newborn pigs, abortions, stillbirth in sows and some respiratory symptoms in adult hogs. An animal may carry the disease with no symptoms until stress activates the disease.

Some other animals (including cattle, goats, sheep, horses, cats and dogs) may contract the disease (usually by bites). These animals die within 48 to 72 hours with symptoms similar to rabies (thus the name pseudorabies, even though the disease is not related to rabies).

Pseudorabies has been around for 150 to 200 years but peaked in its influence in the 1960s. Through careful eradication programs, the last case in Wisconsin was reported in 1998.

Now in 2007, the two herds that have been confirmed positive (in Loyal and Greenwood) threaten Wisconsin's pseudorabies-free status.

Already, Michigan has banned import of swine from Wisconsin. This is no surprise. When I lived in Michigan 10 years ago, TB (tuberculosis) was found in livestock in one of the counties I was serving as an Extension agent. Since the farms were isolated, other livestock producers were slow to be concerned.


For more information on Pseudorabies, click here.

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