Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Joe Morrissey, 518-457-0752,
Dave Bullard, 315-487-7711 x 1377,

May 05, 2014

New York State Fair to Suspend Piglets and Sows Exhibit and Competition for 2014

Effort in Place to Prevent the Spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea at the 2014 Fair

Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith today announced a concerted effort to protect the health and safety of piglets and their mothers at the 2014 Great New York State Fair.  Due to a relatively new virus known as Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED), which has an extremely high mortality rate for piglets, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets has decided to suspend the Sows and Piglets exhibit and competition and at the 2014 Great New York State Fair. 

“The health and safety of all livestock at the 2014 Fair is of paramount importance,” said Acting Commissioner Ball. “We understand that some fairgoers may be disappointed, but we want the Fair to continue to show off the best in New York agriculture and we need to do so in the best possible way to protect the well-being of the animals in our care.”

“Fairs in general are a challenging environment in terms of animal disease control, and a lack of vaccine that’s been proven effective against PED makes the risk for piglets too high this year,” said Dr. Smith.  “Animals come to the Fair from all over the state and with a disease like PED circulating, it’s in the best interests of the animals that we take this action.”

Ed Dutton, Owner of Churchill Farms in Holland, NY, said, “I’ve been exhibiting my animals, including piglets and sows, over the past ten years at the Great New York State Fair.  I understand the Fair’s decision to suspend the sow and litter exhibit this year and agree with that decision.  Churchill Farms will return to the Fair this year with an array of market hogs and breeding stock for fairgoers to enjoy.”

PED is relatively new to the US.  It first appeared in the Midwest in May 2013 and has since spread to about half the US.  Cases have now been identified in NY and 24 other states.  The disease has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s hog farmers, having caused the death of an estimated 5 million piglets in just under one year.  When sows and litters become infected, PED kills nearly 100% of piglets less than 10 days old, while pigs older than 10 days tend to recover.

As Dr. Smith noted, there is no vaccine yet to protect pigs against PED.   PED is caused by a Corona virus and is highly infectious to swine. The virus is shed in large quantities and the infectious dose is very small so cleanliness is critical. The American Association of Swine Veterinarians, in conjunction with the National Pork Board, has made a wealth of information available at:

PED only infects swine.  Other animal species are not affected.  PED cannot be transmitted to humans and does not affect food safety.  When a herd is first exposed to PED, the primary clinical sign is severe diarrhea in pigs of all ages.  The virus is spread by ingestion of feces containing the PED virus. The sources for infected feces include pigs, trucks, boots and other fomites.  The incubation period is 12 to 24 hours and the virus is shed for 7-10 days.  Piglets born to recovered sows are protected by antibodies in the colostrum while nursing.  They may become susceptible after weaning.  Strict biosecurity is the best control measure to keep it out of a farm, which is why hand sanitizers will again be used at barns located throughout the 12-day Fair.

Adult male and female pigs without piglets will still be on display in the goat, llama and swine barn at this year’s Fair. The Department of Agriculture and Markets has put out an advisory to county fairs on its recommendations, which can be viewed here:

The Department of Agriculture and Markets assigns veterinarians and veterinary technicians to every county fair and the State Fair to check the health of livestock and poultry as they enter and also to monitor animal health during the fairs. 

For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Animal Industry, visit  For more information on the 2014 Great New York State Fair, visit

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