Steve Wing: Swine virus unknowns

March 19, 2014 

Regarding the March 11 letter “A hyped-up hysteria over hog virus”: The letter writer states that, “All the piglets that have died have been handled in accordance with established mortality disposal plans,” yet he contradicts his own statement by acknowledging that Waterkeeper Alliance photos of open carcass burial are “exceptions.”

The writer cannot possibly know how many of the excess carcasses have been handled properly, in part because the number of deaths from porcine infectious diarrhea has not been made public. Waterkeeper Alliance can only observe a small proportion of the thousands of industrial hog operations in N.C.. Therefor,e there is great potential for underestimation of improper carcass disposal in the current epidemic.

Waterkeeper Alliance’s concern about impacts of excess swine mortality on water quality and public health arises because of the same problems that led N.C. to develop animal burial guidelines that prohibit the practices uncovered by Waterkeeper Alliance. Its request to make this information public is responsible and in the interests of public health.

Steve Wing

Associate professor of epidemiology, University of North Carolina

Pittsboro

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