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Tighter Swine Biosecurity At State Fair Aims To Keep Diseases Out

Amy Mayer
IPR file photo
Show pigs will need a veterinary exam seven days before the Iowa State Fair.

The threat of a deadly hog disease is prompting state officials to tighten security at swine events during the Iowa State Fair.

For nearly a year, U.S. pork producers have watched African swine fever decimate China’s pig herd and they fear it could arrive here. It doesn’t hurt people or contaminate food, but it could wipe out many farms and send pork prices soaring.

So this year, a veterinarian has to examine a show pig and give it a certificate of inspection within seven days of it arriving at the fair. Previously, that exam only had to happen within 30 days of a show.

Iowa’s state veterinarian, Jeff Kaisand, says all hogs will also get a vet check before being unloaded at the fair.

“They still could be infected with a disease and not showing any clinical signs,” he says, “but what we’ve done is we’ve really narrowed-up that window to try and make sure we’re minimizing our risk as much as possible.”

African swine fever has spread from China to several other Asian countries and is also found in some European countries.

Still, the 7-day inspection is, for now, something the state is encouraging, without formally changing the official rules.

“Going forward, we’re going to sure review what our rules say and weigh any potential issues that we might want to change or any possibilities that we might want to put into actual rules,” Kaisand says.

The World Pork Expo, which attracts hog farmers and swine industry personnel from many infected countries, was canceled earlier this summer because of fears visitors might bring the deadly virus.

This year’s Iowa State Fair runs August 8-18.