Dr. Stephen Levan doesn’t mind spending weekends in the piggery.
In fact, that’s his job.
As one of the many veterinarians on the lookout for animals at Olayfair, Levan is checking for African swine fever, deadly (for pigs-people can’t get it) and highly contagious viruses.
“China has defeated more pigs than it exists in other parts of the world,” he said of their reaction to the disease. “So I’m there to look for pig disease.”
Levan grew up in Cognos and still calls Main Street his hometown, but his work often takes him to exotic places such as Russia, Qatar, Egypt and Vietnam. He accompanies a livestock ship abroad to ensure that all intercountry paperwork is in place and that sick animals do not enter or leave other countries.
He said it could be both a dream and a nightmare, depending on how organized the shippers and farmers are.
But ollie fairs are always a dream job.
“This fair is about community and heritage,” he said. “William Jennings Bryan said cities could collapse, but society will rise again from small towns. I think that’s true.”
He has seen many animal diseases come and go during his more than 40 years as a veterinarian.
And as a veterinarian from a veterinary family, he hears that animal diseases can have a devastating impact on family farms.
“Most of the time we are not sick,” he said. “But my grandfather spent a great deal of time treating brucellosis and tuberculosis (mainly found in cattle). It doesn’t look that much anymore.”
Levan, who grew up in Olay, says he rarely misses the Olay fair, and remembers Warren Levengood and Fred Stofer gathering agricultural neighbors to create the fair.
“It was a prominent citizen of this small area of Cognos,” he said. “That little group made this wonderful fair.”
As a fourth-generation veterinarian, Levan said his family has always been involved in both fair medicine and veterinary medicine. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School 44 years ago.
“I’m the fourth generation,” he said with a laugh. “Even a veterinarian can’t go to the big Thanksgiving table in my family.”
But he sat at the table and learned a lot about how animal diseases devastate small farms.
In 1956, hundreds of thousands of animals in the United States were affected by brucellosis. Brucellosis is an infectious disease that can kill cattle and infect humans. Currently, USDA reports that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in addition to all 50 states, are brucellosis class-free, thanks to eradication programs that include observation and certification by veterinarians such as Levan. period.
However, there is no cure or cure for African swine fever. The only way to prevent it is to destroy the animals that carry it before it spreads the African swine fever. Levan does not expect to find it at the ollie fair, but does the veterinary checks needed to ensure that the animals brought to the fair are healthy.
“You must be able to judge livestock across the gate,” he said. “And most of the time they are good, happy pigs, so if everything is done in the right and simple order, it’s okay.”
As an expert who knows how easy things can go wrong, he’s happy to be one of the people who work hard to make sure things go well.
“We are very fortunate to have few pandemic animal diseases compared to other countries,” he said. “These are atypical cases, so getting rid of the last percent of the disease is the most difficult.”
Animal pandemics are similar to human pandemics in that they begin to spread to places where people gather, including places such as county trade fairs, so his job is to maintain the health of the local herd. He said it was essential.
“People need to use common sense,” he said.
And he usually finds that common sense abundantly at OLAP fairs where animals are less stressed.
It facilitates his work, he said.
But he really likes Oley Fair and he loves what it represents, so spending time there is as much fun as work.
“You can tell people that the Dutch, who bust up with an old man in a crumpled hat, are focused on the trade fair,” he said. “Farmers are working hard and I want to see a small family-owned farm continue.”
Oley Fair Pig Veterinarian
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