- 40 to 50 new cases were diagnosed each week
- After only a few months the disease had spread across 14 states
- By 2014 PEDv was found in 30 of the 52 states of the US
- The virus had killed 2.3 million sows and between five to eight million piglets
The Impact of Disease
The diseases that attack pig herds are highly contagious and silently spread through a farm in a matter of days before symptoms are identified. The impact on the animals is horrific, often leading to death by chronic diarrhoea and dehydration, or respiratory diseases like pneumonia that stifle their breathing. The impact on the piglets is worst; born so weak they cannot survive more than a few days, and in other cases born dead and mummified in the sow’s womb. A disease like porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome will kill up to 70% of piglets in every infected herd.
The Impact on Farmers
As disease spreads from property to property in rural communities the impact on farmers can be devastating.
Farmers can suffer bankruptcy and struggle with extreme emotional stress, mental breakdowns and depression.
Relationships with neighbours and the broader community are turned upside down as the fear of disease spread requires whole regions to be quarantined, going into lock down sometimes for months on end.
Imagine being too afraid to go into town as you fear you might spread a disease to your neighbour, or contract it in the supermarket aisle just by coming into contact with a speck of dirt fallen from the sole of another farmer’s shoe.
The Cost of Disease
The cost of cleaning up after a disease outbreak is enormous. Not only can this cripple a farming family’s business, it will have a significant impact on the local economy.
It is estimated that the US will have to spend US$664 million a year for the next decade to manage the aftermath of PRRS.
Additional costs for biosecurity and other outbreak related costs have been estimated at over US$477 million, bringing the estimated cumulative total to over $1 billion dollars a year.
A Moral Responsibility
We have a moral responsibility to keep our pigs safe and protect their welfare. Keeping our animals safe from disease outbreak is both an animal and a farmer welfare issue.
Millions of Aussie pigs would die if Australia’s biosecurity system were weakened. Understand the risks, and find out what you can do to keep our pigs safe.