by SUSAN MANN
Nearly five months have passed without any new cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus appearing in Ontario, and the PED milestone shows just how well the industry has tackled containing the virus, says veterinarian Mike DeGroot.
But pig producers are not out of the woods yet, warns DeGroot, Ontario Pork’s biosecurity coordinator.
The industry’s success makes this winter “an even higher priority for everyone to be alert and make sure that we don’t spread this virus,” he explains.
Environment Canada predicts a milder-than-normal winter for the province, and generally such a forecast is good news because the virus survives for longer periods in frigid weather. However, even a mild winter contains enough chill to allow the virus to survive for extended periods, DeGroot says.
There are industry-wide discussions about trying to eliminate PED from Ontario. “What makes this winter so critical is we need to have good control . . . so we can start thinking of eliminating the virus from the province entirely,” he says.
The last new PED primary outbreak was July 14 on a farrow-to-finish farm in Lambton County. Of the 84 primary sites confirmed to have the virus since it first hit Ontario in January 2014, 66 farms or 79 per cent have dealt with it and are now negative, says DeGroot.
Moreover, only one per cent of more than 6,348 samples taken from federal processing plants have tested positive.
Fifty-eight provincial plants have been sampled and 10 plants have returned at least one positive result. Of the 982 samples taken at provincial plants so far, 15 per cent are positive, according to an Ontario Pork update.
Traffic into and out of farms still poses a great risk for virus transmission. DeGroot says there has been progress in educating people about the need to step up their biosecurity.
“There are still challenges with transportation facilities having the labour, time and money to get these trailers washed but I think it has been a higher priority since PED has come into Ontario,” he explains.
The virus isn’t a food safety or human health risk. It’s a viral disease causing vomiting and diarrhea in pigs. In nursing piglets, the virus causes almost 100 per cent mortality while older pigs can recover from the disease. BF
UPDATE Wed. Dec. 9, 2015: Earlier this month, a Lambton County finisher became the site of the 85th confirm case of on-farm PED in Ontario. According to Ontario Pork’s website, the diagnosis was confirmed on Dec. 2, 2015. END OF UPDATE