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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2015 Livestock Disease Update

Last year, several diseases were particularly damaging to Colorado livestock production. These threats are real possibilities again for 2015; however, education and management practices can limit the extent of their impact and severity. The following is a discussion about three viral threats to Colorado livestock and resources to help producers minimize their risk.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) is a corona virus that affects pigs of all ages. It is however, most devastating to sow farms with 100% mortality on piglets ages 3-5 weeks. It was recently diagnosed for the first time in the United States on a sow farm in Iowa in May of 2013. It is highly contagious between pigs and within a year, it had spread to 30 states with just short of 7,000 positive samples sent in. The viral strain is greater than 99 percent similar to the strain in China, but the method of entry into the United States is unknown. The disease is likely spread across states through livestock trailers. At processing plants, it is estimated that for every contaminated truck arriving, two will leave contaminated. The best way to protect against PEDV is prevention through biosecurity.

This disease is not zoonotic and not considered a threat to public health or the food supply. For more information on PEDV, visit

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Unlike PEDV, the Influenza virus is no stranger to the United States. Two strains of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), H5N2 and H5N8, have been confirmed in the United States. HPAI spreads easily in birds and poultry and has a high mortality rate. The main source of disease transmission is due to the wild bird population and their migratory routes. HPAI at this time is not considered a threat to public health or the food supply. Practice the following biosecurity measures to stop disease spread and keep your flock safe.

Colorado Department of Agriculture recommendations for Commercial Flocks
· Restrict on-farm access to essential employees only
· Practice on-farm disinfecting procedures (ex: foot baths and equipment cleaning)
· Use indoor facilities
· Do not have contact with other flocks and limit movement of birds, poultry workers, equipment, and transport vehicles
· Anyone entering the farm should use protective gear on egg farms
· Avoid contact with sick or dead poultry/wildlife
· If contact occurs, wash hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with domestic poultry

USDA APHIS recommendations for Backyard Flocks
· Wash hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds
· Scrub your shoes with disinfectant
· Clean cages and change food and water daily
· Clean and disinfect equipment that is exposed to your birds
· If you do borrow tools or cages, clean and disinfect them before they reach your property
· If visitors have birds of their own, do not let them near your birds
· If you have been near other birds, bird owners, pet/feed store disinfect shoes, clothing, and equipment before returning to your birds.

For a sick bird, call the Colorado Avian Health Call Line at Colorado State University (CSU): (970) 297-4008.

For a dead bird, submit to the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fort Collins for free HPAI testing: (970) 297-4008 or (970) 297-1281 or visit

For Multiple sick/dead birds, call either the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office at (303) 869-9130 or USDA Colorado Office at (303) 231-5385.

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) affects most livestock, but particularly horses and cattle. This disease can be spread by insects, animal-to-animal contact, and by livestock transportation. The insects undergo yearly migrations that begins in Mexico and continue north as spring and summer commence.

 The first case of VSV this year was documented in New Mexico and has since been confirmed in Arizona and Utah. The location and severity of the disease varies from year to year. The outbreak of 2014 was particularly severe for Colorado with 370 premises with positive diagnosis. Livestock owners can reduce the spread of the disease by practicing biosecurity principles and by implementing insect control. Although in rare circumstances, the disease can be spread to humans, this disease is not considered a threat to public health or the food supply. For more information on VSV, visit

For any unusual livestock/poultry disease or death, contact your local veterinarian. Your local Extension Office can also help direct calls and answer questions. The State Veterinarian’s Office can be reached at 303-869-9130.

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