Concerns regarding a swine CAFO operation and African swine fever were raised at a recent meeting of the Todd Township Supervisors.
Despite those concerns, the state Department of Agriculture has had no cases of suspected African swine fever reported to the agency, and there have been no cases of African swine fever reported in the U.S.
It does, however, remain a huge concern to federal and state officials, as the disease is a highly contagious and deadly diseases among domestic and wild pig populations, and has spread rapidly in countries like China, Mongolia and Vietnam as well as countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Powers said since it’s a deadly disease, it gives the state Department of Agriculture regulatory authority, so if farms were to suspect pigs were dying, or there were symptoms of the disease, they would have to report it.
For example, at the Huntingdon County Fair in August, there were restrictions on market pigs exhibited at the fair.
“There were restrictions on animals being transported to fairs, but that was precautionary,” said Powers. “It’s not because there was any African swine fever in the country, but because of the prevalence overseas.”
Though the disease poses no threat to humans, humans are the ones who can pass disease quickly, hence the reason for the restrictions on transporting pigs at county fairs.
“Fairs bring in a lot of human traffic,” said Powers. “They bring in their boots from other places, and that’s how the animals get it. It does not harm humans, but humans transmit the disease.”
The state Department of Agriculture has also communicated the importance of biosecurity on their farms to swine farmers, regardless of their size.
“We want them to have a biosecurity plan in place, and we recommend they file it with the department in advance so they know what they’re going to do in the event they have sick animals.”
While they’re not required to file a biosecurity plan with the state Department of Agriculture, they are required to report it.
“It wouldn’t be in the interest of a hog farmer to fail to report it,” said Powers. “It’s because of indemnification. African swine fever is 100% fatal to pigs, so it’s not in anyone’s interest to fail to report it. It’s in their best interest to report it because it’s their livelihood.”
Indemnification, in this case, would mean if a swine farmer lost their herds to African swine fever, or any other deadly virus or disease, they can receive aid for their loss.
“They have the ability to be compensated by the federal government,” said Powers.
She noted the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also taken precautions not to admit any tainted pork into the food supply from overseas.
“So, nobody is getting pork from infected swine,” said Powers. “Regardless of the fact that it’s not a danger to humans, they are doing that as a precautionary measure.”
If anybody from any swine operation has concerns regarding African swine flu or any deadly virus that could be impacting their pigs, or any livestock for that matter, they can call the emergency number at (717) 772-2852.
“It will tell them to choose option one, and that will get an immediate callback from the vet on call,” said Powers. “That number is for any deadly virus that can impact livestock or animals, whether it’s African swine fever, avian influenza or any other dangerous transmissible disease.”