If people want to see piglets this year, they'll just have to settle for Winnie-the-Pooh.
An untreatable virus introduced into this country a year ago is spreading through the porcine population at a staggering rate, killing 5 million piglets nationwide and affecting the growth of older pigs. (It doesn’t affect humans.)
The disease, abbreviated PEDV, has not only affected farming, but also driven up the price of pork at the grocery store.
PEDV is spread largely through pig feed and manure, which can travel in straw, on farm equipment and on farmers' shoes and clothing. The best way to keep it from spreading is to keep sick and potentially sick pigs from interacting with healthy ones and to stop the mingling of potentially contaminated sources.
As a result of the virus, the state Agriculture Department has wisely cancelled the popular Sow and Piglet exhibit/competition at the State Fair in Syracuse and has issued a three-page directive on how to prevent the spread of PEDV at the state's 45 individual county fairs. The precautions, even if followed to the letter, do not guarantee the disease will not spread.
There's no good reason any pigs or pig-raising operations at risk of spreading the infection should be at county fairs this year. Farmers and fairs should do everything they can, including keeping all the pigs at home if necessary, to prevent this disease from spreading further.
Until a vaccine is developed, people will just have to get their piglet fix from Pooh.