SALT LAKE CITY — If Wilbur the pig goes to a livestock show or county fair in Utah, his bacon is cooked.
An emergency order issued Tuesday by the state veterinarian's office warns that any pig shown at Utah fairs or livestock shows must then be taken directly to slaughter to prevent the spread of a deadly swine virus.
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PED, is not a threat to humans or other animals, but it has killed as many as 7 million pigs in the United States since last year.
"It is unfortunate that the students and youth who show these animals and often take them to different shows will not be able to do that," said Larry Lewis, spokesman with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. "But we want to take every prudent precaution to guard all the large and small hog operators in the state."
First diagnosed in Ohio, PED has since spread to 30 states but so far has not reached Utah. There is no known cure.
“PEDv is highly contagious, and therefore aggressive steps must be taken to protect Utah’s $200 million pork industry,” said assistant state veterinarian Warren Hess. “I also want our 4-H kids to be able to show their animals, however this order requires that they not take their animals back home.”
The order requires fairs and livestock shows to be "terminal" — that is the last stop for the pig. Students and others who intend to enter the swine for judging will not be allowed to bring the animals back to the farm.
While the order becomes effective May 5 to give people a chance to prepare, the state veterinarian's office is urging that any show held before then be given the same status. The emergency order also requires all hogs and pigs entering Utah to be first inspected by a veterinarian promising the animals have not been exposed to the virus in the past 30 days.
“This order does not cancel any livestock show. It does put into place prudent measures intended to keep Utah one of a minority of states that is free of the PED virus," Hess said. "Utah only recently relaxed its ban on 'terminal' swine shows, but because of the resurgence of PEDv in more than 30 states, including four of the five states boarding Utah (Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona), it has become necessary to reinstate these protections."
The agency invoked the emergency order following the announced requirement by the USDA that any case of PEDv and Swine Delta Coronavirus be reported nationally. In addition, the USDA is requiring the tracking of movements of pigs, vehicles and other equipment leaving affected premises.