Hawaii has identified its first outbreak of a deadly pig virus that emerged in the continental United States last year, confounding officials who are uncertain how the disease arrived over thousands of miles of ocean.
The state confirmed Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) on a farm on Oahu, the most populous Hawaiian island, on Nov. 20, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
Farmers and the federal government have been working to contain PEDv since it was first detected in the United States in the spring of 2013. The virus has killed at least 8 million pigs, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. hog population. PEDv was previously found in parts of Asia and Europe. It is unknown how it came to the United States.
Hawaii had toughened import requirements for live pigs in July in a bid to prevent the spread of PEDv, banning infected hogs and requiring tests for PEDv prior to shipping.
State officials do not know how PEDv arrived on their shores and are testing animal feed from the infected farm to try to determine whether it may have transmitted the virus, acting State Veterinarian Isaac Maeda said in a telephone interview Monday.
“We live out in the ocean,” Maeda said. “A lot of things you see on the continental U.S., we don’t see out here.”
Chances of determining how PEDv arrived in Hawaii are “not looking very promising,” he added.
The outbreak occurred on a farm with about 150 pigs, and about 25 percent died, according to Hawaii’s agriculture department. Veterinarians sent samples from the farm to the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which confirmed the PEDv infection.
“It was surprising because it was a long distance from your traditional swine channels,” Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, said about the outbreak.
The farm did not use feed containing porcine plasma, which has been suspected of spreading PEDv, Maeda said. Continue reading
MILWAUKEE >> A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of baby pigs in less than a year, and with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it’s threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10 percent or more.
Estimates vary, but one economist believes case data indicate more than 6 million piglets in 27 states have died since porcine epidemic diarrhea showed up in the U.S. last May. A more conservative estimate from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the nation’s pig herd has shrunk at least 3 percent to about 63 million pigs since the disease appeared.
Scientists think the virus, which does not infect humans or other animals, came from China, but they don’t know how it got into the country. The federal government is looking into how such viruses might spread, while the pork industry, wary of future outbreaks, has committed $1.7 million to research the disease.
The U.S. is both a top producer and exporter of pork, but production could decline about 7 percent this year compared to last — the biggest drop in more than 30 years, according to a recent report from Rabobank, which focuses on the food, beverage and agribusiness industries.
Already, prices have shot up: A pound of bacon averaged $5.46 in February, 13 percent more than a year ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continue reading
Monsanto Fund Donates $20,000 for Molokai Watershed Protection
Monsanto Molokai News Release
The Monsanto Fund awarded a $20,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii for watershed protection at Kamakou Preserve on Molokai. Since 2006, the Monsanto Fund has contributed a total of $130,000 to TNC’s protection and restoration efforts of critical watershed and fragile ecosystems on Molokai.
Located high in the mountains of East Molokai, the 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve is a rainforest like no other on the planet. This magnificent natural treasure not only shelters hundreds of native plants and animals, but also serves as an important source of water for the island and its people.
TNC’s work at Kamakou Preserve, in collaboration with the public and private landowners of the East Molokai Watershed Partnership, is focused on invasive animal and weed control.
“Molokai’s forested watersheds today are under constant assault from established and new invasive species,” said Ed Misaki, TNC’s Molokai Program Director. “Feral ungulates (hoofed animals) like wild pigs, goats and deer are steadily eroding fragile topsoil. Once this soil disturbance occurs, invasive plants that did not evolve here, like blackberry and strawberry guava, steadily displace our native forests and watersheds. Once lost, they may be impossible to fully restore at any price.” Continue reading
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing protecting 13 Big Island plants, a picture-wing fly and a shrimp as endangered species.
The agency said Wednesday invasive plants, agriculture, urban development and feral animals like pigs, sheep and goats are threatening the plants and animals by destroying their habitat.
It’s accepting comments on the proposal through Dec. 17.
More than 400 species around Hawaii are already listed as endangered or threatened.
The agency says its proposal is part of a court-approved work plan to resolve a series of lawsuits over the agency’s listing of species.
The agency says the agreement aims to reduce work driven by lawsuits.
Hunters hired to control invasive species on Hawaii island have killed their first axis deer.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday the deer was captured in the southern part of the island.
Big Island Invasive Species Committee Manager Jan Schipper declined to say specifically where the deer was killed to prevent interference with the committee’s two hunters.
The animal native to India and Sri Lanka was first introduced to Molokai and Oahu in 1868, Lanai in 1920, and Maui in 1959, but they hadn’t been found on the Big Island until last year.
Non-native mammals such as like pigs and goats already damage the island’s environment. But axis deer are a new type of menace in part because they’re so large they can jump over fences that are meant to protect native forests.
Two U.S. children were infected with a previously unknown flu virus that apparently formed when a pig influenza virus picked up a gene from the strain that caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009, federal health officials reported Friday.
Both of the children recovered, however, and there is no evidence that the virus is spreading easily among people, meaning that it does not appear to pose a threat of becoming a significant public health concern, officials said.
“We want people to be aware of these things and we want physicians to be aware,” said Lyn Finelli, chief of surveillance and response at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Division. “But we don’t think that these cases in themselves are alarming.”
Both children are 2 years old, and both apparently were infected by exposure to pigs at county fairs. In one case, a boy in Indiana was apparently infected by a “caretaker” who had been showing pigs at a county fair a few days before the boy became ill, Finelli said. In the other, a girl in Pennsylvania appears to be have been infected when she went to a county fair and petting zoo, she said. No one else, including family members of the two children, appears to have become infected.
“We see four or five of these cases every year. They are commonly reported during times of state fairs and county fairs when there is more contact between people and pigs,” Finelli said. “These infections are similar to those that have been reported before.”
The Indiana boy developed a fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea July 23. Because he had other chronic health problems, he was hospitalized the next day, but returned home three days later and completely recovered. Continue reading
The economic downturn means organic farmers are less likely to reap rewards of premium prices for their produce
Farmers across the UK have been deserting organic farming, or holding back on plans to convert their land to more environmentally friendly farming methods, as sales of organic products have fallen in the economic downturn.
Last year, only 51,000 hectares was in “conversion” – the process that farmers need to go through to have their land and practices certified as organic. That is less than half the amount of land that was in conversion in 2009, which itself was down markedly from the recent peak of 158,000Ha in 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday morning.
Far fewer farmers are interested in turning their land to organic production, despite the promise of premium prices for their produce, after a marked fall in sales of organic goods in the past two years as a result of the recession. Continue reading
The Army says it is closing Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island to hunting because of heightened security at military installations around the world.
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii said Monday that hunting will not be allowed at Pohakuloa until the Department of Defense lowers security levels.
The Army normally opens a part of the base to civilian hunters for about 50 days each year to help control wild pigs, sheep and goats.
The feral animals could damage rare and endangered plant habitats if they are not controlled. Allowing civilian hunters to use Pohakuloa also helps the Army’s relations with community members.
KUALA LUMPUR – MALAYSIA will give locally-reared pigs embedded identity discs in a bid to stop the illegal slaughter and distribution of meat that is unfit for human consumption, reports said on Sunday.
This follows the revelation by Malaysian pork sellers association chief Goh Chui Lai over the weekend that unhealthy pigs were being slaughtered at illegal abattoirs, resulting in unhygienic meat being distributed nationwide.
Malaysian veterinary services department chief Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin told the New Straits Times daily that radio-frequency identification (RFID) disc would now be placed beneath the skin of each pig in order to track it.
‘Any mismatch between the number of pigs reared in each farm and the number slaughtered at licensed abattoirs will be considered suspicious,’ he told the paper. Continue reading
Honolulu police and fellow pig hunters are looking for a missing man in Waianae Valley.
Police said 37-year-old Thomas Kalama Jr., an avid hunter, was last seen on Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. at his home in Waianae.
Family members found Kalama Jr.’s 1983 Toyota pickup yesterday at 1 p.m. parked at the end of Waianae Valley Road.
Anyone with information on Kalama Jr. is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.