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Pastured porkers in eastern New York tested positive for swine brucellosis. Commingling during fair season raises risk of spread.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

August 23, 2016

2 Min Read

New York ag officials recently issued an alert that a small number of pasture-raised swine herds tested positive for swine brucellosis in Washington, Schoharie and Rensselaer counties (eastern New York). State and federal agencies are investigating and working to prevent further spread of the disease.

So far, commercial pork industry and other livestock aren’t known to be affected. Several swine herds that received animals from the positive herds were blood-tested and found negative.


New York Ag Commissioner Richard Ball urges every pork producer, breeder and owner to adhere to best practices. Reach out to your ag department with any questions, and remain vigilant to keep this serious disease from spreading. The warning comes during local and county fair season where pigs are often commingled.

What to watch for
Contact with feral swine or wild boars might have been the disease source, since it’s more common in the South where higher populations of feral pigs exist. That might help explain why it popped up in pastured herds. But that vector hasn’t yet been confirmed in New York.

The disease isn’t always obvious. Key signs include abortions, arthritis and infertility. Boars may also be affected. And it can be passed to humans via close contact.

The greatest risk of SB spreading comes via the movement of live breeding animals. The most effective way to protect a herd against this disease is for producers who are purchasing breeders, particularly those that are from pasture-raised or hobby operations, to isolate new pigs from their existing herd until blood test results show that they haven’t been exposed.

The disease is spread from one swine to another primarily through direct contact. Risk of infection through indirect exposure is very low.

Swine herd owners who have received untested swine into their herds in 2015 or 2016 and who have observed SB symptoms or have any reason to suspect that their herds may be infected should contact their state ag department. In New York, that’s the Division of Animal Industry at 518-457-3502.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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