Farmers Asked To Test Afflicted Pigs to Rule Out More Serious Disease

Feb 15, 2017

Credit File Photo / KBIA

Cases of Seneca Valley Virus have risen in Missouri and the rest of the country over the past year. Infected pigs develop blisters on the nose and where the hoof meets the leg, but the real concern is that these blisters look almost identical to those caused by Foot-and-Mouth Disease, which would pose a threat to pigs and pork exports in the United States. While Seneca Valley Virus is not dangerous, its similar appearance to Foot and-Mouth Disease is causing concern that the more serious disease could be overlooked.

If Foot-and-Mouth came to the United States it would be detrimental to the pork industry. The disease hasn’t been seen in the country for over one hundred years and is considered a foreign animal disease. Now, experts are encouraging farmers to be vigilant and not assume blisters are caused by Seneca Valley Virus and to have veterinarians do testing immediately to ensure that Foot-and-Mouth Disease is not the cause.

University of Missouri Extension Veterinarian Corinne Bromfield does not want farmers to be scared by Seneca Valley Virus but does want them to take precautions to ensure that it is not Foot-and-Mouth Disease. Bromfield's concern is that veterinarians or farmers cannot simply look at the blisters and identify the condition without performing tests. "Anybody that looks at this disease cannot say ‘Oh, by looking at this I know that it is Seneca Valley Virus,” Bromfield said, addressing the concern that the two conditions are so similar in appearance.

University of Missouri Professor Tim Safranski said Footand-Mouth Disease could affect the export of pork in a in a major way. “For the national industry, that would be pretty devastating. We export about twenty-five 25 percent of the pork we produce,” Safranski said. If the product cannot be exported then it stays in the country and creates a surplus of pork impacting domestic supply and prices.