Pennsylvania has been Pseudorabies-free, meaning the state has successfully eradicated the disease, since November of 2004. The virus does not cause illness in humans. Pseudorabies, or PRV, is a viral disease most prevalent in swine, often causing newborn piglets to die. Older pigs can survive infection, becoming carriers of the pseudorabies virus for life. Other animals infected from swine die from pseudorabies, which is also known as Aujeszky's disease and "mad itch." Infected cattle and sheep can first show signs of pseudorabies by scratching and biting themselves. In dogs and cats, pseudorabies can cause sudden death.
PRV is primarily spread through direct animal-to-animal (or nose-to-nose) contact between an infected and shedding pig and a non-infected pig. If present on inanimate objects, such as boots, clothing, feed, trucks, and equipment, the virus can also spread from herd to herd and farm to farm. Pseudorabies can be prevented primarily through good, tight bio-security, a sound vaccination program, and thorough, meticulous management with disease control and prevention in mind. Pseudorabies includes the Pseudorabies Qualified Swine Herd Program.
Pennsylvania currently has 33 swine herds enrolled in the PRV program. Pennsylvania's PRV-free status allows herd owners to move animals within PA and to other states and is vital to maintain the swine industry in Pennsylvania. The pork industry is a major economic player in Pennsylvania's agricultural economy, and this status will help keep Pennsylvania pork producers competitive in the national and international marketplace.
The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, established a voluntary eradication program for pseudorabies in the United States in 1989. The program is cooperative in nature and involves federal, state, and industry participation. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, coordinates the national pseudorabies eradication program. State governments promulgate and enforce the intrastate regulations, and producers contribute by having their herds tested and instituting control and eradication measures. The program's primary activities include surveillance, herd monitoring, and herd cleanup.