- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Board of Animal Health has relaxed some hog movement restrictions put in place earlier this year to guard against the spread of a deadly pig virus.

Fairs that hold farm animal shows and competitions are free to continue all restrictions, State Veterinarian Susan Keller said Thursday.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or PED, has killed millions of pigs in the U.S in the past year. It was confirmed in a swine herd in eastern North Dakota in late February - likely brought in by a vehicle that had visited a slaughterhouse in another state.

North Dakota began requiring any pigs shipped into the state or within the state to have a health certificate assuring no clinical signs of PED. The requirement for in-state movement of hogs has been discontinued.

No additional cases of the disease have been found in the state, and the animal health board agreed that the temporary requirement raised awareness of the disease and the importance of biosecurity measures such as keeping barns, clothing and vehicles clean and disinfected.

“A swine producer’s biosecurity plans are a critical part of keeping … diseases out of their operations,” said board member Daryl Dukart, of Dunn Center.

PED was first found in the country in April 2013. It has since spread to 30 states and has been blamed for recent increases in the price of pork products such as bacon.

The virus can be fatal to pigs - especially young ones - and is a threat to North Dakota’s hog industry, which sends about half a million piglets to other states each year to be fattened for market. The PED health certificate requirement continues for imported hogs, including those shown at county fairs and the state fair.

Any pigs brought into the state for exhibition must have a permanent identification, such as a tattoo, and also a second approved tag, such as a U.S. Department of Agriculture metal tag. Pigs moved within North Dakota also must be tagged, though the requirements are less strict.

Keller said swine exhibitors should contact local extension agents and fair managers for requirements for specific events.

North Dakota State Fair Manager Renae Korslien said that most hogs exhibited at the midsummer event are from within the state, and the fair plans no restrictions above what the state requires. The Agriculture Department will have officials at the gate checking people bringing in hogs and other show animals to make sure they are complying with rules, she said.

“We follow everything the state vet tells us to do,” Korslien said.

The North Dakota Pork Council earlier lobbied for a suspension of the show pig season in North Dakota. The animal health board decided against it for several reasons, including the time and money invested by those involved in the shows and the fact that individual shows are free to cancel on their own.


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