A cull sow died at New Holland Sales Stable on Dec. 16 of a disease that can be transferred to humans, according to the state Department of Agriculture.
The state Department of Agriculture veterinarian Kevin Brightbill warned exhibitors of the upcoming Farm Show about the incident in a letter Friday.
The sow with Strep zoo (Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus), and others with similar symptoms that have since been euthanized, were associated with one Pennsylvania farm outside of the county, according to a PennAg bulletin. The farm is currently under quarantine and was selling down its livestock because it was run down and needed repairs.
Since the sow death, the state Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services begun an investigation and determined the disease presents a “relatively low” threat, Brightbill wrote in the letter.
Although rare, Strep zoo can cause severe and potentially fatal illness in humans, according to the USDA. The disease is transferred through contact with bodily fluids and drinking the unpasteurized milk of infected cows.
In order to prevent a further outbreak, the Department of Agriculture is requiring Farm Show exhibitors to clean and disinfect all conveyances and show equipment before transporting animals into and out of the facility in Harrisburg’s Farm Show Complex.
The conveyances at highest risk of harboring the bacteria are ones that hauled swine to livestock auctions and slaughter facilities, so thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting these carriages is “of utmost importance in safeguarding animal health,” Brightbill wrote.
This is not the first diagnosis of Strep zoo in swine in the United States, but the disease is quickly emerging.
In November, more than 888 cull sows died or were euthanized at a slaughter plant in Tennessee that had the presence of Strep zoo.
The disease has also become a threat to human health in China, with “significant detections” of the bacteria, according to the USDA. Similar swine deaths occurred in Manitoba, a province of Canada in May.
All of these instances of strep zoo have had “remarkably similar” genotypes, according to the USDA. Testing has not yet confirmed the specific genotype for the sow death in Pennsylvania, Powers said.