A reluctant Aloha!

by Erica Shaffer
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HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) issued a quarantine order stopping the movement of pigs on Oahu after the presence of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus was confirmed on a farm in Waianae Valley.

HDOA said a farm called the department's Animal Disease Control Branch to report cases of diarrhea among their pigs. State veterinarians took samples from the farm and sent them to Kansas State Univ. Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for confirmation. HDOA received confirmation on Nov. 20.

“Our current focus is to contain the virus and prevent its spread on Oahu,” said Dr. Isaac Maeda, acting state veterinarian. “We will also survey other swine operations and try to determine if the virus has spread.”

State agriculture officials do not know how PEDv arrived in Hawaii; the farm did not import any pigs. But officials are testing animal feed from the infected farm to try to determine whether the virus was transmitted via the feed. Researchers at Pipestone Veterinary Clinic in Minnesota published in August a study that showed for the first time that livestock feed can be a carrier of PEDv. The study was published in the peer-reviewed BMC Veterinary Research journal.

The virus is fatal to young pigs. The virus has killed more than 8 million piglets and spread to herds in more than 30 states since the disease was first confirmed in the United States in May 2013. In response, Hawaii implemented increased swine import requirements to prevent the spread of PEDv to the islands. Measures included excluding swine from operations with PEDv and negative tests for PEDv before shipping. The state also required testing of all lots of feeder and market hogs entering Hawaii within 14 days of entry.

Meanwhile, disease control measures were implemented at the farm which houses 150 pigs. HDOA said about 25 percent of the pigs, mostly piglets, died in late November. The remaining hogs appear to be recovering, and no additional swine deaths have been reported. Additionally, the quarantine order stopped the movement of pigs on the west side of Oahu. No swine can be moved east past Nanakuli from Makaha, Waianae and Nanakuli Valley. The order also restricts movement of pigs to the other islands.

Hawaii has about 230 pig farms, 70 of which are on Oahu. Most are small operations.
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