1. Aiken County horse in quarantine after neurological disease diagnosis
By Dede Biles
Aiken Standard
February 27, 2024

A horse experiencing symptoms of a neurological disease in Aiken County recently tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1, or EHV-1, according to a news release Tuesday from Clemson University.

EHV-1 is the primary cause of Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy, or EHM, which damages the blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord.

Clemson animal health officials quarantined the infected horse Feb. 13 after it displayed clinical signs of EHM, including lethargy.

Testing by nasal swab confirmed the presence of EHV-1 on Feb. 22.

Plans call for the horse and its pasture mates to be monitored throughout the quarantine period, the release states.

"The infected animal is no longer showing clinical signs with resolution of fever and was likely beyond the infectious stage of the disease by the time we were alerted," said South Carolina State Veterinarian Michael Neault, who is the director of Clemson Livestock Poultry Health, in a prepared statement.

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2. Avian Influenza Virus Is Adapting to Spread to Marine Mammals
Findings Raise Concerns About Wildlife Conservation and Ecosystem Health
By Kat Kerlin
UC Davis News
February 28, 2024

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 has adapted to spread between birds and marine mammals, posing an immediate threat to wildlife conservation, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) in Argentina.

The study*, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, is the first genomic characterization of H5N1 in marine wildlife on the Atlantic shore of South America.
[*See: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/30/4/23-1725_article ]

For the study, scientists collected brain samples from four sea lions, one fur seal and a tern found dead at the most affected sea lion rookery in Argentina. All tested positive for H5N1.

Genome sequencing revealed that the virus was nearly identical in each of the samples. The samples shared the same mammal adaptation mutations that were previously detected in a few sea lions in Peru and Chile, and in a human case in Chile. Of note, the scientists found all these mutations also in the tern, the first such finding.

Full text: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/avian-influenza-virus-adapting-spread-marine-mammals

3. Poultry Line Speed Lawsuit Dismissed Against USDA
By Jennifer Shike
February 28, 2024

A U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, dismissed a lawsuit filed four years ago against the USDA regarding its decision to increase line speeds at poultry plants.

Originally filed on Feb. 25, 2020, the complaint by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Outlook, Mercy for Animals, Government Accountability Project and Marin Humane alleged USDA implemented line speed changes without providing time for legal notice and time for public comment.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) introduced a waiver system in 2018 to permit poultry processors participating in the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) to operate line speeds exceeding 175 birds per minute.

USDA argued the plaintiffs lacked standing as the 2018 decision was not reflective of the agency's final action. The 2018 waivers were terminated and modified waivers were allowed under new criteria in 2022.

The court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. The plaintiffs must file any amended complaint within 21 days. If the plaintiffs do not amend the complaint, the court will enter judgment in favor of the defendants.

Source: https://www.porkbusiness.com/news/ag-policy/poultry-line-speed-lawsuit-dismissed-against-usda

4. Swine industry next to adopt electronic identification
By Kristen Sindelar
February 28, 2024

The pork sector may be the next to require a standardized electronic animal identification program.

Mark Wright, president of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA), revealed the proposed national Swine Traceability Standards at the NPPA Regional Producer Meeting held Feb. 13 at the Nielsen Event Center in West Point, Nebraska. This was the second of four meetings to be held in different locations across the state in February and March.

Currently, the swine industry relies on Premises Identification (PIN), which assigns a unique code to a farm location. Under the proposed standardized system, all swine breeding stock would be required to have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag prior to entering the slaughter channel. PIN would be replaced by RFID, said Wright.

"The pork industry is a global industry. This is what global expanding markets are wanting, this is what trading partners are wanting, this is what stores in other countries are wanting. To be more traceable in our food supply chain," Wright said.

Full text: tinyurl.com/28x7cfdh

5. Panhandle wildfire rages through more than 1 million acres, becoming the largest in Texas history [edited]
Light rain and snow are expected in the area but meteorologists don't expect the precipitation will provide significant help to quell the fire.
By Carlos Nogueras Ramos and Alejandra Martinez
Texas Tribune
February 29, 2024

Texas firefighters on Thursday struggled to contain a series of wildfires in the Panhandle that have now engulfed more than 1 million acres of land and crossed into Oklahoma - an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, making the fire the largest in Texas history.

Authorities said they hoped cooler temperatures and calmer winds on Thursday would help with fire suppression efforts. Wildfires have become more frequent and severe in the Western United States because of warmer, drier conditions, drought and longer fire seasons, all factors that are worsening because of climate change.

The Smoke Creek fire alone, which broke out Monday afternoon in Hutchinson County, has surpassed the million acreage mark across Texas and Oklahoma. It is larger than the East Amarillo Complex fire in 2006, which blazed through 906,000 acres of land and used to hold the record for the state's largest wildfire.

The Smoke Creek fire was followed by a second one in Moore County, located 35 miles west of Hutchinson County, which has burned through 142,000 acres of land.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties in the area, directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management to deploy more resources and firefighters to contain the blaze. Medical personnel are also on the ground to support firefighters and other emergency responders.

In the cities of Canadian, Fritch and Glazier, officials on Tuesday ordered nearly 5,000 residents to evacuate or shelter in place. By Wednesday, Hemphill County officials lifted the evacuation order and said city services would resume that day.

Ranchers from Midland brought in several trucks full of hay for the surviving livestock in the area.

"We delivered hay to someone last night, he had nothing left," said Casey Smith, a rancher. "He didn't have a blade of grass left."

Full text: https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/29/texas-panhandle-wildfire/

6. Donkey in South Carolina positive for EHV; Virginia horse positive for strangles; State Veterinarian Confirms Rabies In Middle Tennessee Horse

Donkey in South Carolina positive for EHV
The donkey lives on a farm in Aiken County, where four additional equids are exposed.
EDCC Health Watch
Equus Magazine
February 29, 2024

On February 22, a 6-year-old donkey gelding in Aiken County, South Carolina, was confirmed positive for neurologic equine herpesvirus (EHV). The donkey developed clinical signs on February 13, including fever and lethargy. He is currently normal, and quarantine is ongoing for a total of 21 days.

Full text: https://equusmagazine.com/news/edcc-health-watch/donkey-in-south-carolina-positive-for-ehv

Virginia horse positive for strangles
EDCC Health Watch
Equus Magazine
February 29, 2024

A horse in Washington County, Virginia, has been confirmed positive for strangles. The horse is under quarantine, and 30 horses are exposed.

Full text: https://equusmagazine.com/news/edcc-health-watch/virginia-horse-positive-for-strangles

State Veterinarian Confirms Rabies In Middle Tennessee Horse
By Source Staff
Rutherford Source
February 28, 2024

The Tennessee State Veterinarian confirms that a horse in Bedford County that died was positive for rabies.

"Incidence of rabies in horses is relatively low but we've seen two cases in Tennessee in the last five months," State Veterinarian Samantha Beaty said. "This neurologic disease is fatal, so livestock owners should consult their veterinarian about protecting their animal through vaccinations, as that is the easiest and most effective means to protect against the disease."

In October of last year, after presenting for neurologic symptoms, a horse in Cocke County was euthanized, and a necropsy confirmed a positive rabies infection.

Full text: https://rutherfordsource.com/state-veterinarian-confirms-rabies-in-middle-tennessee-horse/