26 May 2013 - Let’s Protect our Farms and Ranches

The question this week is...how did PEDV get into the United States? It is officially called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus but, if it is all right with you, I will simply refer to it as PEDV.

Let me first of all say it does not pose a food safety or health risk to humans, the pork is safe to eat, and other livestock species cannot contract the disease because it is a swine-only disease.

It has never been found in this country until a couple of weeks ago when it was discovered on farms in Indiana and Iowa. Actually, it dates back to the 1970's and there have been outbreaks in England, Canada, China, South Korea and Japan, but not the United States. There is no cure or vaccine and baby pigs are especially susceptible; mortality rates can run between 50% and 100%.

Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Keith Roehr said. . . “There are a lot of bio security and prevention measures in place at farms that prevent the spread of disease. That is what is so puzzling about this case. To be in different states, and to have crossed between different swine operations and between different owners, all of which are painstakingly kept separate to prevent the spread of disease - that’s unusual.”

So again, the question . . . How did it get here? Which then leads me to the point I want to make. We are approaching the summer travel season and a lot of Americans will be taking trips to foreign countries. When you return to the United States, you are required to complete the Custom Declaration form and one of the questions is: “Did you visit a farm?”

If you did, by all means, say YES. It will add very little time to your clearance through Customs, Immigration and Agriculture when you return. But it is critically important to the safety of crops and livestock in this country to make sure pests and/or diseases like PEDV are kept outside our borders. Our agricultural inspectors need to know the location and type of farm you visited and, in many cases, will wash and disinfect the shoes you wore during the farm visit. I offer this packing tip based on the fact that I always visit farms when I travel to other countries. I take a pair of old shoes that I wear on every farm visit and at the end of my trip, discard them before I head back to the U.S.

One more bit of advice. Before you leave this country, check the list of foods that cannot be brought into the U.S., because if you bring any item on that list, it will be taken from you and destroyed. And one more time, if you do visit a farm, check “Yes”, to make sure that you are not the one to bring a deadly disease like PEDV into the country.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.