by SUSAN MANN
Ontario pork producers must continue working hard to protect their own farms from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus at the farm gate, says Ontario Pork chair Amy Cronin.
“We can’t be sure that anything that enters our laneway or drives down our road is PED negative and we’ve got to make sure then that we keep this virus outside our barn door,” she says, adding farmers have a lot of work ahead of them but the industry has made great strides in the last year ‘with regards to biosecurity.”
In response to a question during the Ontario Pork telephone town hall update Dec. 3 on the status of the virus in Ontario, Cronin says farmers dropping pigs off at slaughterhouses should ensure “you wash and disinfect anything that’s gone on to that property before you bring it back to your own farm.”
Dean Gurney, Ontario Pork industry and member services manager, says by practicing good on-farm biosecurity and ensuring trailers are washed and disinfected “Ontario can continue on its path of eliminating PED from the province.”
There have been 66 confirmed cases of PED virus in Ontario since it was first confirmed on a Middlesex County farm in January, including the most recent case on Dec. 2 of a finisher barn in Niagara Region. The virus does not affect food safety and doesn’t pose a risk to human health. But it’s a major disease in pig production causing diarrhea and vomiting in the animals. The disease wipes out almost all nursing piglets, while older pigs can recover. The Ontario industry is working hard to eliminate the virus from the province.
Marty Misener of South West Ontario Veterinary Services says of the 100 sites participating in the ARC and E project, 52 are presumed negative and a “bunch of those are just waiting for pig flow and final testing. We should have less than 20 left in the positive category by the end of the year,” he says. “Our industry has shown it can eliminate PED in all kinds of pig farms.”
But factors making virus elimination on some farms more complex include: herd size, multiple age groups on site and facility design. “All producers that had to deal with this virus should be proud of their efforts,” he says. And those farms with complicated cases shouldn’t despair because it isn’t “for lack of effort that they are still battling this bug. It’s just a complicated elimination.”
Some of the information presented during the telephone meeting includes:
- Of the more than 900 samples taken to date at federal processing plants and some select provincial plants, 20 positive results were found but from those no new on farm cases have been detected, Gurney says. Some trace backs are still in progress.
- Ontario Pork and the Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board are working together on a transport and assembly risk reduction project for this fall and winter with a primary goal of identifying the highest risk areas for PED transmission during pig transport. The project aims to provide risk reduction recommendations in real time and will focus on practical solutions with the highest impact, Misener says.
- The pork industry needs to use the biology of the PED virus to its advantage. If pigs stay less than 18 hours, then they’re staying less than the time of the incubation period of the virus and therefore they’re not going “positive and shedding massive amounts of PED virus in the facility,” Misener explains. “That has a very big impact on the risks associated with that point of contact.”
- The Ontario industry has a very good handle on which farms are PED positive. And if the industry knows which sites are positive it can “control for that risk far better,” Misener says. Understanding site status “is a big issue going forward this winter.”
- Transporters and assembly yards are working hard to reduce the PED risk for their customers as much as they possibly can, Misener says. BF