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Oregon Veterinarians Busy Tracking Emerging Virus In Pigs

Oregon Department of Agriculture

Oregon’s pig ranchers and veterinarians are on alert for what’s called Seneca Valley Virus.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, the ailment mimics a far worse disease.

Since September, there’s been roughly 50 cases in the state. Afflicted pigs have blisters on the nose and feet, and display lameness. 

State Veterinarian Brad LeaMaster says these symptoms are also common in animals suffering from foot and mouth disease, or FMD…which ravaged England in the early 2000s.

“The only way to tell the two diseases apart is a laboratory test," says LeaMaster.   "And so if we see a pig showing these vesicular lesions, we have to investigate.  Because what we don’t want, is to become complacent, and ignore the disease.  That would be the perfect time for FMD to sneak into the country.”

LeaMaster says pigs can’t be processed into meat and sold until a veterinarian gives the all-clear, which may take several days.  He says if anyone sees blisters on their pig’s nose and feet, to call a veterinarian immediately.

Fortunately, pigs with Seneca Valley Virus recover within a few days.

Copyright 2017, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.