Southeast Ohio Pig Farmers Face Fears, New Monitoring Requirements

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Pig farmers in Southeast Ohio are worried and now facing more regulations to stop the spread of a deadly pig virus.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday it is stepping up efforts by requiring farmers to report infections and labs where farmers send tissue and fecal samples to report positive tests.

Farms that suffer an outbreak also will have to participate in a program to help control the spread of the disease.

Jim Ator who owns Athens Livestock Sales in Albany said the mysterious illness is nearly 100 percent fatal to piglets in the first ten days after birth and has a 75 percent mortality rate for those 20 days or older.

He said area farmers are taking every precaution to stop the spread of the virus.

"They've never seen anyhing like it," he said.

And because the carrier is unknown farmers are keeping people and vehicles away from their herds.

"They let no one in their barn except for themselves, they use plastic suits, plastic boots, gloves.  If they let vehicles on their place to move the animals, most of them have a pressure wash system – they even wash the tires on their truck and the fender wells," he added.

Ator said the prices of pork, especially bacon, have increased dramatically over the past few days, but it's often hurting those in the industry more than the consumer.

"This is the time of year where in this area a lot of fair pigs are being bought by the children to take to the county fairs later in August and it is – as far as price wise, almost doubled in price as far as live weight prices."

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, believed to be from China, causes severe diarrhea in newborn piglets, who die from dehydration.

The disease is not dangerous to humans.