Half of sites where swine kept near disease were unregistered

US - The state's response to a potentially fatal swine disease was hindered last month by farms that failed to register where their animals are kept as required by law, officials say.
calendar icon 22 May 2007
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"This time it was pseudorabies _ serious and fatal in many cases, but not a disease that moves terribly fast or that harms humans, " said Rod Nilsestuen, state agriculture secretary. "What if it had been foot-and-mouth disease? What if it had been the deadly strain of avian influenza? We were lucky _ this time."

Wisconsin became the first state in the nation a year and a half ago to require livestock premise registration in an effort to track down animals within 48 hours and help prevent the spread of disease. It still leads the country in the number of sites listed.

But when swine contracted pseudorabies on two Clark County farms in central Wisconsin, the state spent four extra days tracking down unregistered livestock premises within a five-mail radius of the infected farms, said Nilsestuen, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Half of the 62 sites in the area were not registered, he said.

"While we did that, the owners of the registered premises waited for us to test their animals so they could get out from under quarantine," Nilsestuen said. "And they wondered why they were losing money when they'd done the right thing."

Many of those who have not registered their premises and received a farm ID number in both the swine and dairy industries are some Amish who cite religious reasons, DATCP spokeswoman Donna Gilson said. Others apparently have not signed up because they believe it is an "insidious" government program, she said.

Danny Meyer of Loyal, whose swine operation of about 3,000 animals was among those quarantined last month, said the delay did not hurt his business much except that he was unable to sell to some 4-H members whose animals were scheduled to be weighed in at that time.

"I'm not angry," he said. "I understand religious freedom and that they have a right to challenge. But if I have to follow the law, they should, too."

Pseudorabies often kills newborn pigs and causes abortion or stillbirth in sows, but usually only causes respiratory symptoms in healthy adult hogs.

The National Animal Identification System said Wisconsin had 57,494 of the 391,884 livestock premises registered nationally as of May 14, more than twice as many as the next three states _ Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas _ all of which had 27,000 to 28,000.

Source: The Winona Daily News

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