Winter storm precautions urged for livestock, poultry owners

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Agriculture reminds poultry and livestock growers to take proper precautions to shelter and protect their animals as winter storm season is upon us.

“Preparedness is the key to keeping animals safe,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, who heads the Department’s Poultry and Animal Health Section. “Winter storm situations can be deadly to livestock and poultry, but taking the right steps can keep them healthy.”

In preparation for heavy snow and possible power outages, owners should inspect poultry houses and other structures; keep back-up generators, fuel, and filters on  hand; check feed inventories; have a back-up communications plan; and mark driveways and roads with tall poles or stakes. Roofs should be cleared of snow as soon as possible, while taking proper steps for worker safety.

Other precautions recommended by the Department of Agriculture include:

>> Check and secure all buildings and enclosures. Repair or secure loose boards, doors, window covers, metal sheeting, wire and equipment that could blow around in high winds.

>> Provide water and food. Make sure your animals have alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps and automatic waterers are not working. Have enough food and water on hand for seven days. Move feed to higher ground to prevent mold contamination from flooding.

>> Mark animals. Identifiers for returning lost animals could include ear tags with farm name and phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coats, or clipped initials in hair coats. Leg bands can be used for back yard poultry.

>> Stock up on supplies. Make sure you have basic veterinary supplies on hand and that your livestock are current on vaccinations.

# # #

Media contact:

Dan Shortridge
Director of Communications and Marketing
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520
daniel.shortridge@delaware.gov

 


Hog owners required to report deadly swine viruses

DOVER — Delaware hog owners, veterinarians and laboratories are now required to report suspected cases of two rapidly spreading swine diseases to the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Delaware has had no cases of either disease reported to date.

Under a new federal order, suspected cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, and porcine deltacoronavirus, or PDCoV, must now be officially reported. PEDv has killed seven million piglets in the last year throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. PEDv was first reported in the United States last year, and has also been reported in Canada and Mexico.

Delaware has only a handful of commercial hog farms, but also about 55 smaller hobby farms with swine, such as back-yard hogs raised for shows.

“Despite Delaware’s small hog population, this virus remains a significant concern because it can be easily spread from farm to farm on contaminated clothing, shoes, equipment, trucks, or from infected swine,” said Delaware State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst. “We are keeping a close eye on this situation to protect our hog owners and make sure they are aware of what to look for. The best defense for hog owners is to employ strict biosecurity measures to help prevent the viruses from getting to their farms.”

Examples of good biosecurity measures include:

>> Purchase pigs from a reliable source.
>> Keep newly purchased pigs separate from the rest of your herd for at least 30 days before mingling them with your established herd.
>> Avoid carrying manure on clothing, boots, equipment, or vehicles from one farm to the other.
>> Prevent visitors from other hog farms from entering animal areas at your farm.
>> Avoid visiting farms where hogs are kept. If you must visit other hog farms, take special care to avoid carrying any trace of manure home with you to your herd.

Clinical signs of PEDv include severe diarrhea and vomiting, with the greatest losses occurring in pre-weaned piglets. Reports of suspected PEDv cases – any pig with severe diarrhea, vomiting, or both – should be made to the hog owner’s veterinarian as well as the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500. Hog operations with positive test results will be required to develop management plans with their veterinarian in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other farms.

More information is available at de.gov/pedv.

# # #

Contact:
Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520


Sussex County Horse Tests Positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis

DOVER — A horse from Sussex County has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced today.

The yearling filly was showing signs of severe neurologic disease and was under the care of a veterinarian. Despite receiving supportive care, the horse showed no improvement, and was humanely euthanized.

This is the third Delaware horse this year to be diagnosed with a mosquito-borne disease. Two horses have previously been diagnosed with West Nile Virus, and both have recovered. The last case of equine EEE in Delaware was in 2005. There is no treatment for either West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

“With the large mosquito population this year, we continue to urge equine owners to have their horses vaccinated and consult with their veterinarians about maintaining a vaccine program,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, who heads the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section. “Vaccination can increase a horse’s protection against these sometimes fatal diseases. Prevention is still cheaper than care – and far better than having a horse suffer or die.”

Unvaccinated horses are at greatest risk of developing clinical signs from both Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV), which are spread by mosquitoes and can be fatal. Both horses and humans can contract WNV and EEE if bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, but it is important to note that the viruses are not transmitted between horses or from horses to people. The viruses normally exist in a cycle between mosquitoes and birds, but occasionally EEE can be transmitted from mosquitoes to mammals.

Hirst said horse owners should contact their veterinarian immediately if they suspect their horse may be showing signs of WNV or EEE. Symptoms of EEE in horses include fever (102.5-104.5°F), loss of appetite, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle tremors in the head and neck, and hind-limb weakness. These signs are also consistent with WNV, although a fever may or may not be present with WNV.

Prior to 2013, Delaware’s last confirmed equine case of WNV was in 2003, and the last case of equine EEE was in 2005.

To reduce mosquito breeding, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control advises people to drain or remove items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, downspout extenders, and unused swimming pools.

For more information about:

• Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.

• WNV in humans and related medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.

• WNV or EEE in horses and equine vaccines – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

• West Nile virus – visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm

# # #

Contact:

Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520