Michael Thomas Ray: A hyped-up hysteria over hog virus

March 10, 2014 

Regarding the March 1 news article “McCrory’s aid sought with viral hog crisis”: I am a veterinarian, retired from private practice after over 26 years but have stayed in touch with the unfolding events of the PED virus in N.C. and around the country.

It is a sad and disturbing day when environmental groups that have the potential to do so much good for communities and the state disregard all science and available public information and instead run baseless, emotional and disingenuous attacks on agriculture to promote their own anti-agriculture agenda.

The swine industry is being devastated by a virus that before last May had not been found in North America, though it is common in England, Europe and Asia. There is a wealth of information and knowledge about what this virus is and what it is not.

The hog producers in N.C. have met this disease with an incredible amount of energy, expense and effort to contain and control it on their farms. Although all ages of hogs are affected, it is only the newborn pigs that have a high mortality rate. With exposure of the virus through a farm, a herd immunity develops so that subsequent newborn pigs are protected by nursing from their mothers. All the piglets that have died have been handled in accordance with established mortality disposal plans that are in accordance with N.C. General Statute with the specific objective of preventing any harm to groundwater and other environment issues. All hog farms in N.C. are required to have an approved mortality disposal plan.

The virus has no effect on humans, and there is nothing to support the idea of “contaminating water sources.” There is no public health concern, either directly or indirectly. There are exceptions to the vast majority of producers who take their stewardship of animals and our environment seriously, of course, and that is what the Waterkeeper Alliance has found: exceptions.

The Waterkeeper/Riverkeeper groups are using the serious and devastating misfortune of so many of our state’s swine producers as a cover to advance their nonexistent agenda of “danger to public health.” Shame on them for kicking producers who are already being devastated. Shame on them for ignoring or misrepresenting facts and manipulating information, and shame on them for attempting to spread hysteria to the public and politicians, who have neither the background nor personal experience to see this for the publicity stunt that it is.

Michael Thomas Ray


The length limit was waived for a fuller response to the issue.

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