As farmers, disease remains a challenge that we must always be prepared for. Below you will find information on current disease challenges facing pig farms in our region.

Swine Brucellosis Outbreak

Last year, nine pig herds in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states were discovered to have Swine Brucellosis. Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can infect animals and humans, and during this outbreak, was discovered only after a person became ill. Northeast Pork Association is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reach out to owners of pigs that have outdoor access to provide you all with more information about Brucellosis and how to protect the health of both pigs and people. Some of you may have been reached out to directly by USDA, but for those who were not, I want to provide you additional information.

The mission of USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS)┬áis to protect the health of livestock. Many of their programs focus on diseases which can also infect people, which means that they also protect human health. They know that we are all committed to these goals as farmers. VS wants to start engaging with all of their stake holders including small, niche, pastured pork producers like we see throughout New England. Here are some of the lessons VS learned from last year’s Swine Brucellosis events:

  • “One of the nine herds was likely infected over 12 years ago- infection may have been introduced to a herd many years ago, spread to other herds through sale of infected pigs or borrowing of infected boars, and yet went completely undetected.
  • Signs of brucellosis in some herds weren’t recognized- as many producers and veterinarians have no experience with Swine Brucellosis, signs of the disease in an infected herd may go unnoticed; we need to do a better job of educating producers about Brucellosis and general methods for protecting their pigs from disease.
  • Pigs from pasture raised, heritage, and organic herds often do not got to slaughterhouses that participate in national Swine Brucellosis slaughter surveillance- we are not finding infected herds using current surveillance methods (e.g. slaughter and diagnostic testing of sick pigs).”

How can YOU help protect the health of your pigs and people who come in contact with them (either directly or through meat)? VS is looking for producers who raise pigs in our region that have outdoor access to answer 10 questions in an anonymous survey. To participate, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JV2H2MN . If you have questions about this survey or the Swine Brucellosis project being done in our region, please contact Leslie Seraphin, District Epidemiology Officer, at Leslie.L.Seraphin@aphis.usda.gov or via phone at 609-259-5264.

You can add value to your pigs by becoming a Validated Swine Brucellosis-free herd. Many states will offer this testing at no cost to you. The contacts for our states are below:

  • New Hampshire: Alicia Pedemonti, MPH; New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, 603-271-2404 or alicia.pedemonti@agr.nh.gov
  • Vermont: Animal Health Section of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, 802-828-2421 or AGR.AnimalHealth@vermont.gov
  • Maine: Justin Bergeron, DVM; Maine Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation, justin.bergeron@maine.gov or 207-592-6698
  • Rhode Island: Scott Marshall, DVM; Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, (401) 222-2781 ext. 4503 or scott.marshall@dem.ri.gov
  • Connecticut: Dr. Mary Jane Lis; Connecticut Department of Agriculture, 860-713-2505 or mary.lis@ct.gov
  • Massachusetts: Michael Cahill; Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources, 617-626-1794 or Michael.Cahill@state.ma.us