Pennsylvania hog farmers face risk to herd from imported wild hogs

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HARRISBURG, Pa. — Eurasian wild hogs illegally brought into Pennsylvania for use on a hunting preserve were found to be carriers of pseudorabies, a virus that can cause reproductive and neurological problems in livestock and wildlife.

Hogs discovered

Pennsylvania’s commercial swine farms have been declared pseudorabies-free by U.S. Department of Agriculture since 2004. The state department of agriculture became aware of the hogs when they escaped from the hunting preserve and were found on a farm in Butler County.

The owner of the preserve admitted to obtaining the hogs, and 10 others, from an out-of-state dealer without legal documentation. Pennsylvania animal health officials, working with USDA Wildlife Services and animal health officials in the state from the hogs came, continue to investigate.

“Bringing wild boars into the state without proper testing and documentation puts our state’s pseudorabies-free designation at risk, and with it, the trade opportunities our swine industry currently enjoys,” said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

Violations noted

Wolff noted that violations of Pennsylvania’s importation regulations carry fines of up to $100 per violation, per animal.

Animals brought into the state without any documentation can be in violation of several regulations, including pseudorabies and swine brucellosis.

Disease problem

The USDA declared Pennsylvania pseudorabies-free in 2004, meaning the state has successfully eradicated the disease. While not harmful to humans, pseudorabies is a viral disease that can cause reproductive problems in pigs and neurological problems in other species of animals, such as cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, cats and wildlife.

Past eradication

Through a cooperative two-year effort beginning in 2002, the swine industry worked closely with veterinarians, the state department of agriculture and USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service staff to conduct intensive surveillance to eradicate the disease in Pennsylvania.

Without the statewide pseudorabies-free designation, Pennsylvania swine producers would need to provide a certificate of veterinary inspection and blood tests for any pigs sold into other states or countries, and would create more challenges when sending pigs to slaughter.

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