Disease found in 3 pigs in Carroll

State thinks animals left troubled farm

July 18, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

Three pigs believed to have wandered from a troubled Carroll County farm have tested positive for trichinosis, the disease caused by a deadly parasite discovered in a malnourished pig removed from the property in the spring, state officials said yesterday.

State veterinarians will test the remaining pigs on the 112-acre Marston farm, which has been under a swine quarantine since late April, said Kate Wagner, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

Wagner said officials will seek permission from farm owner Carroll Schisler Sr. to test about 80 more pigs but have the authority to proceed if he declines.

Roland Walker, Schisler's attorney, said his client would allow the testing but maintains that any diseased pigs on the Schisler farm were purchased that way.

"The fact that they have trichinosis doesn't suggest they got it at his place," Walker said. "He's only had some of the pigs for a short time."

Last week, Schisler, 60, and his son, Carroll Schisler Jr., 34, of the 2500 block of Marston Road were arrested on a 19-count indictment that included charges of animal cruelty, feeding garbage to swine and selling contaminated meat, as well as federal charges of operating a slaughterhouse without a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The charges stemmed from raids in March and April, when investigators found decomposing animal carcasses and livestock feeding on garbage at the farm.

Daniel H. Green, attorney for the younger Schisler, said the farm's conditions deteriorated while his client was in jail from November to the end of March for violating parole in an unrelated case.

"He just lives on the farm," Green said. "Basically, he's the farmhand and does what his father tells him as far as the animals go."

Trichinosis has been nearly eradicated from the nation's pig farms in the past 30 to 40 years, said Thomas G. Hartsock, an animal science professor and swine specialist at the University of Maryland, College Park.

To contract trichinosis, a pig must consume a piece of muscle from a mammal infected with the parasitic worm Trichinella spiralis, he said. Humans can catch the disease by eating undercooked meat that contains the parasite.

Agriculture officials don't think any customers have purchased or consumed pork from the Schisler farm since it was quarantined, Wagner said.

laura.mccandlish @baltsun.com

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