Washington state has confirmed its first case of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), diagnosed in pigs that were illegally imported into the state. It is the first time the disease has been found in Washington, according to a release from the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association.
The disease is manifests with clinical signs of reproductive impairment or failure in breeding animals, and respiratory disease in pigs of any age. The release states that PRRS is the most economically significant disease to affect U.S. swine production since the eradication of classical swine fever (CSF). Once PRRS is established it is hard to get rid of.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA) Animal Services Division Compliance Program began an investigation into illegally imported pigs into the state on June 25. An Idaho-based livestock dealer purchased 704 pigs in mid- to late-May from an Iowa production facility with a Montana slaughter destination, however the pigs ended up in Idaho and Washington, the release says.
The pigs were missing the necessary health documents for entry into either Idaho or Washington. The department’s investigation found that most of the pigs were sold in Idaho, but at least 13 entered Washington. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is conducting its own investigation into whether or not laws or regulations were broken.
When WSDA completes its investigation, the findings will be reported for possible enforcement actions and says that the USDA has been notified of the incident, the release says. A necropsy of a pregnant sow, which was one of the 13 pigs brought into Washington, triggered the investigation. The pigs were sold on Craigslist and it’s been reported that some of the other pigs in the group were sick as well. The necropsy showed that the sow was infected with PRRS virus and circovirus 2, neither of which had been previously identified in Washington pigs.
The release cites strain from COVID-19 on the meat processing industry contributed to the situation in which importers brought unwanted pigs from the Midwest into Washington. Normally about 1,000 pigs come into the state per year, but more than 4,000 have been imported this year, some illegally, it says. The influx puts Washington’s pigs at risk for swine diseases common in higher-density swine states and for the diseases to establish a foothold in the state.