(Posted July 20, 2016)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
A 4-H market hog died at the Madison County Fair on July 16. The cause, according to the state veterinarian, was strep, a bacterium living in the tonsils of most pigs that can cause disease in the brain and other organs.
A second 4-H hog that showed the same symptoms died after being sent home with its owner, said fair board member Quinton Keeran on July 19.
“That’s all we have confirmation of at this time,” Keeran added, regarding any other deaths.
The first death occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on July 16. The family of the 4-H exhibitor involved notified the fair board. The fair veterinarian, Tony Xenikis, and other fair officials responded to the scene immediately, Keeran said.
After examining the situation, Xenikis contacted the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the state veterinarian, Dr. Tony Forshey, who took over authoritative control of the swine barn at about 3:30 a.m., according to a statement from the fair board.
The barn was placed under quarantine, and the deceased hog was taken to ODA’s facility in Reynoldsburg for examination. The autopsy indicated strep. Forshey said heat and stress likely compromised the animal’s immune system. He identified two other hogs in the barn with the same symptoms. Those animals were removed from the barn when the quarantine was lifted at 6 a.m. One of those two hogs was the second reported death, having passed after returning home with its owners.
All remaining hogs in the barn were approved to take part in the Junior Fair livestock sale on July 16.
“The ODA notified us it is not a human health concern or a food safety issue,” Keeran said.
Fair officials informed all exhibitors with swine breeding projects of the issue via email. Any exhibitors who took hogs back to their home farms were advised to contact their veterinarians if their animals appeared to be symptomatic.
As for how the fair board responded to the situation, Keeran said officials followed protocol. He said the board plans to put its crisis management plan in writing and keep it in the main office at the fairgrounds.