- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

NEW WINDSOR, Md. (AP) — A father and son are facing several charges, including feeding garbage to pigs and animal cruelty, after raids on their Carroll County farm where several hogs have tested positive for trichinosis.

Carroll Schisler, 60, and his son, Carroll Schisler Jr., 34, were arrested last week on a 19-count indictment that also included federal charges of operating a slaughterhouse without a license. The charges were the result of raids in March and April in which investigators found decomposing animal carcasses and livestock feeding on garbage at the farm.

State agriculture officials said they don’t think any customers have purchased or consumed pork from the Schisler farm since it was quarantined after the raids.

Three pigs thought to have wandered from the farm have tested positive for trichinosis. The parasitic disease also was discovered in a malnourished pig taken from the property this spring, state officials said Monday.

State veterinarians will test the remaining pigs on the 112-acre farm, which has been under a swine quarantine since late April, said Kate Wagner, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Roland Walker, the attorney for the elder Mr. Schisler, said any diseased pigs on the Schisler farm were infected when they were purchased.

“The fact that they have trichinosis doesn’t suggest they got it at his place,” Mr. Walker said. “He’s only had some of the pigs for a short time.”

Daniel H. Green, the attorney representing the younger Mr. Schisler, said farm conditions deteriorated while his client was in jail from November to the end of March for a parole violation in an unrelated case.

“He just lives on the farm,” Mr. Green said. “Basically, he’s the farmhand and does what his father tells him as far as the animals go.”

Trichinosis is rare on pig farms, having been nearly eradicated in the past 30 to 40 years, said Thomas G. Hartsock, an animal science professor and swine specialist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

To contract trichinosis, a pig must consume meat from a mammal infected with the parasite, Trichinella spiralis. Humans can catch the disease by eating undercooked meat that contains the parasite, Mr. Hartsock said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the disease has become rare in recent years because of legislation banning the feeding of raw meat and garbage to hogs, improved hygiene on hog farms, freezing of pork and the public awareness of the danger of eating undercooked pork.

The CDC said on average, 12 cases per year are reported in the United States. No cases have been reported in Maryland in more than five years, state agricultural officials have said.

The disease causes a variety of symptoms that can last a few months after eating contaminated meat. It usually goes away even without treatment but can cause death in severe cases.

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