SALEM, Ohio – Talk of farm quarantines and animal disease swelled into a cloud of worry last week in Beaver County, Pa., but those fears subsided this week with good news from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Terry Moore perhaps took the biggest sigh of relief after hearing from the department of agriculture Friday that his neighbors’ sheep and goats tested negative for foot-and-mouth disease and other serious diseases.
Moore’s farm was quarantined as a precaution Aug. 9 after sick animals were found at his neighbor’s farm in Greene Township, Pa., Moore said.
Both quarantines were lifted Monday, Aug. 18, after further tests ruled out serious foreign animal diseases, according to Donna Pinkham, agriculture department press secretary.
Ecthyma. Results from the Plum Island, N.Y., lab found the disease to likely be contagious ecthyma, a disease causing lesions and secondary infections, Pinkham said.
According to the Cornell veterinary school, the disease can also be transmitted between humans and animals, and the virus can remain in the environment for years. It produces a chicken-pox-type lesion on humans.
The department of agriculture advised the owner to work with a vet to treat the herd, Pinkham said.
Although the department did not name the quarantined farms, Moore stepped forward, saying his farm and his neighbor’s are quarantined.
Extra interest. Although Pinkham said about six such quarantines are put in place each year, the public interest in this quarantine was uncharacteristic.
With the Hookstown Fair running Aug. 19-23 and minutes from the quarantined farms, people particularly worried about the potential of spreading disease.
The fair, however, will proceed as usual, Pinkham said.
Fair decisions. For Moore’s stepdaughter Kasey Kemp, the decision to lift the quarantine came at just the right time – the day before the fair started.
Last week, Kemp, 19, worried she wouldn’t be able to take her show herd of Nubian goats to the fair because of the quarantine, which prohibited animal movement. After showing at five or six open shows this year, Kemp particularly looked forward to showing at her hometown fair, Moore said.
Moore said his family’s animals have not shown signs of sickness.
Animal distress. Moore called the humane society Aug. 7 after noticing sick sheep and goats in his neighbor’s pasture. The animals’ muzzles were swollen three times their normal size and maggot pockets were “eating the animals alive,” Moore said.
Although Moore said he did not want to cause trouble, he worried the sickness was contagious.
After a vet visited the farm Aug. 9, the quarantines were put in place as a precautionary measure, Pinkham said.
As of Aug. 12, three sheep and one goat died, she confirmed.
Moore and his neighbor share a driveway, which was the reasoning for the precautionary quarantine, Pinkham said.
After posting an official quarantine notice at the end of his driveway, Moore said he put up do-not-enter signs, hoping to warn people coming to the farm.
In addition, Moore drove through a field rather than using the shared drive, he said.
Ohio concern? Although Hookstown sits near the Ohio border, the Ohio Department of Agriculture did not get the barrage of calls that its Pennsylvania counterpart received.
In fact, ODA spokesperson Melanie Wilt said just one call came in from a concerned Ohio resident. The animal industries department recommended the farmer follow biosecurity practices, such as proper disease-control procedures and clothing and footwear sanitization, and reassured the caller that the quarantine was likely routine, Wilt said.
“It looks to me like people got the word there was nothing to worry about,” Wilt said.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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