PEDv on the Rise in Southern Manitoba

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Hog farmers in the southeast have become increasingly concerned about the growing number of barns infected by PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus).

According to data available from the province, there have been nine confirmed cases of the virus in Manitoba in the month of August alone, and 66 affected sites have been reported in 2017. The affected farms include mostly sow herds, which produce piglets, and finishing barns that raise pigs to slaughter weight.

PEDv causes severe dehydration and diarrhea in pigs and is generally fatal to young animals. The virus is not transmitted to humans or other animals, and it’s also not a food safety risk. The virus spreads best in cold, damp weather. However, as of late, the weather has become hot and relatively dry in most parts of the province.

The first confirmed case of the virus in Canada was identified on January 22, 2014 at an Ontario farm. A large scale PEDv outbreak occurred thereafter in the Ontario swine sector, initiating a provincial response. This came amidst a large-scale outbreak in the U.S. which killed more than eight million piglets, pushing retail pork prices to record highs.

Canada is the world’s biggest swine exporter, while Manitoba is Canada’s third largest pork-producing province. The province ships large volumes of feeders (young pigs) to the United States. Canada has exported 1.8 million feeder pigs to the U.S. in 2017. This is up by two percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As of August 29, nine of the 80 premises in Manitoba previously confirmed to have PEDv are now determined to be PEDv Presumptive Negative, following a protocol developed by the Chief Veterinary Office (CVO) and Manitoba’s swine veterinarians. Eighty percent of the PEDv-positive herds previously identified by the Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board are also presumed negative.

When a herd is determined to be PEDv Presumptive Negative, this means that the producer has implemented strict measures to eliminate the virus from all pigs and pig contact areas. In these cases, the virus has been eliminated through repeated animal and environmental testing. However, it is known that a potential risk of the virus could remain within the manure storage system.

In an effort to combat the spread of the virus, the province of Manitoba, in conjunction with the hog industry, has set up buffer zones around the affected farms and created a disease management group to share information and coordinate their efforts.

Strict biosecurity practices also help to limit the spread of the virus. All pork producers must maintain strict on-farm biosecurity procedures to keep PEDv out of the barn.

“Of course we are concerned about the spread of the virus,” says a local farmer who asked not to be named. “However, on our site we adhere to the biosecurity measures outlined by the province. Nobody is allowed on the premises except for the person who takes care of the pigs and the truck for pickup.”

It is deemed critical that the entire industry, including producers, transporters, and suppliers, work together to reduce transmission through strict biosecurity practices.

When positive samples are confirmed either on-farm or at a high-traffic site, biosecurity measures are heightened. All parts of the supply chain are notified and encouraged to maintain strict biosecurity to reduce the spread of the virus.

To date, follow-up has occurred with over 400 Manitoba premises throughout all investigations.

A voluntary PEDv testing program is ongoing at high-traffic sites that move or handle large numbers of pigs, including livestock assembly yards, federal and provincial abattoirs, truck wash stations, and livestock trailers.

As of August 29, 19,759 samples have been submitted for PEDv testing from 20 high-traffic sites.

PEDv is a reportable disease in Manitoba. Producers should contact their veterinarian immediately if animals show any signs of illness.

Producers who have questions about PEDv, biosecurity, and related issues are encouraged to contact the Manitoba Pork Council for assistance through their resources and expertise. 

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