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Dateline Dixon: 'City kid' learning about life on a farm

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 11:29 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 1:56 p.m. CDT

Early last week, as I was standing out in the cold on a farm in Polo with Brent Scholl, we started talking about a virus. Not the flu, and not a virus that harms computers, but one affecting pigs.

I was on Scholl's family farm that day working on an article for the upcoming edition of Ag Mag, an agriculture and farming magazine Shaw Media publishes three times a year. The article I wrote was about technology and livestock sales, but I wanted to ask Scholl about something I had heard about – porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED.

The virus, which isn't harmful to humans or other animals, causes outbreaks of severe diarrhea and vomiting, according to the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and can occur between 2 to 4 days after a pig has been exposed to the virus – a relatively short period of time.

Natural immunity develops within 2 to 4 weeks, according to the organization.

While this isn't necessarily a Dateline Dixon dinner topic, I found something especially interesting when talking with Scholl: The virus can live on a surface – like a rock – for up to 10 days.

The virus is especially harmful to young pigs, Scholl said, which is why he was taking extra precaution cleaning the building his new pigs would live in for their first few months on the farm.

He had no reason to believe the virus had made its way to his farm, and said the Sauk Valley still was safe. He compared PED to other pig viruses in the past, and made it clear to me how serious this could be if it gets to this area.

As someone who grew up in Chicago and has lived in cities bigger than Sterling, Dixon or Rock Falls my whole life, I find the agriculture industry and culture more and more interesting the more I get to know it.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini covers government and happenings in Dixon. He can be reached at mmencarini@saukvalley.com or at 815-284-2224, ext. 229. Follow him on twitter: @MattMencarini.

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