by SUSAN MANN
Ontario’s chief veterinarian, Greg Douglas, is keeping an eye out for developments regarding an Ohio Department of Agriculture finding of a new non-porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in sick pigs in that state. Right now, though, not enough is known about the disease to determine if it even causes clinical disease.
“I think the jury is still out on that,” Douglas notes.
Ohio Agriculture Department officials say the new virus was detected in pig fecal samples from four different swine farms in Ohio, but they don’t know yet if the new virus is causing diarrhea in the pigs. The farms where the samples were collected had outbreaks of diarrhea in sows and piglets in January and early February. The clinical signs of the disease on the farms were similar to the ones caused by porcine epidemic diarrhea and transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), which are both caused by coronavirus.
But analysis of the new virus shows that it is a deltacoronavirus, distinct from PED and TGE, Ohio agriculture department officials say. The new virus has been designated as swine deltacoronavirus.
Douglas says it sounds like the new virus is very similar to PED and TGE but it’s still hard to predict what impact, if any, it might have.
Mike DeGroot, Ontario Pork’s national biosecurity coordinator, says Ohio researchers don’t know yet if the new virus is causing the diarrhea on the Ohio farms. “Those are some of the linkages that will have to be done to see if it is a virus of concern or not.”
DeGroot says there are plenty of viruses out there with some causing disease, while others don’t, and still others “will cause disease under the right circumstances.”
On some of the Ohio farms with the new virus, the pigs had diarrhea but researchers also found TGE or PED “and who knows what other bugs,” he says.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food currently isn't testing for the delta coronavirus. "There hasn't been a request for that here at this point," says Susan Murray, agriculture ministry spokesperson. "We are, of course, testing for PED, TGE and currently known pigs diseases."
Douglas’s message to farmers in Ontario is they should continue maintaining their strict biosecurity protocols and be cognizant of “how to prevent viruses from entering and being exposed to their naïve herds.”
The finding of a new non-PED virus is the latest twist in the PED story. Earlier this month, Iowa State University scientists found a new strain of PED virus from samples taken in Illinois and Missouri, which are among 23 U.S. states with confirmed cases since the disease first showed up in that country last spring. Iowa State University officials say they need to do more research to determine if the new strain is a mutation or a different introduction of the original virus.
The PED virus can’t spread to humans or other species and doesn’t pose a food safety risk. Pork is still safe for people to eat.
The PED virus causes vomiting and diarrhea in pigs. Almost all nursing piglets exposed to PED virus are wiped out while older pigs can recover. So far, there are 13 farms with confirmed cases in Ontario.
The Ontario agriculture ministry’s goal is to limit the spread of the virus by encouraging all segments of the pork industry to maintain strict biosecurity measures, it says on the ministry’s website. BF