A feral pig from Central Oregon tested positive for pseudorabies, a contagious disease that can harm livestock and also spread to some wildlife species, state officials said on Friday. The feral pig was sampled for disease as part of a surveillance program that began in 2007 in Oregon. This is the first positive case since the program started.
The pig was sampled on June 8 by USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon, reports the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
“While the presence of PRV in Oregon has so far been an isolated event, it shows that our disease surveillance program is working. It is too early to know how this disease appeared in Oregon, but additional testing and investigation are ongoing,” Ryan Scholz, Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) district veterinarian, said in a release.
Pseudorabies is a contagious, infectious and communicable viral disease of livestock, causing neurologic, respiratory and reproductive disorders. Although other livestock species have occasionally become infected, the pig is the only natural host of this disease, ODA reports. The disease was eradicated from the U.S. commercial pig industry in 2004 but remains in some localized feral swine populations.
Scholz said there has not been any exposure of domestic livestock in Oregon to the pseudorabies virus, and this detection will not impact Oregon’s recognition as being a PRV-free state.
Oregon’s aggressive program to capture and remove any feral pigs in the state has been successful in keeping feral swine populations from growing. The current estimated feral pig population has decreased from about 5,000 in the early 2000s to around 200 today.
ODA credits the successful reduction in numbers of feral swine in central Oregon as the result of partnerships between USDA Wildlife Services, Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District, ODFW, private landowners and a few dedicated private citizens.
In addition to transmitting disease to livestock, wildlife and humans, feral pigs can also cause damage to agricultural crops and fish and wildlife habitat.
Landowners and land managers are required to notify ODFW within 10 days of discovering free-roaming feral swine on their property. After this, they have 60 days to submit a feral swine removal plan to the department for approval, with ODFW providing technical assistance.
This rule has been in effect since the 2009 Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2221.
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