Efforts to keep PED virus out of Alberta have been effective so far

Alberta pork producers continue to dodge the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) bullet — a bit of good fortune that’s more than just luck, says a Red Deer veterinarian who’s helping lead the fight against the deadly disease.

Alberta pork producers continue to dodge the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) bullet — a bit of good fortune that’s more than just luck, says a Red Deer veterinarian who’s helping lead the fight against the deadly disease.

Egan Brockhoff, a partner in Prairie Swine Health Services and biosecurity co-ordinator with Alberta Pork, spoke Thursday during a teleconferenced meeting about the virus. While the United States pork industry has been devastated by the virus, which kills virtually every piglet it infects, Alberta barns remain clean.

“I’m really encouraged,” said Brockhoff, who credited strengthened on-farm biosecurity, efforts to keep transport vehicles clean and ongoing testing for keeping PEDv at bay.

“We’ve just got to keep doing all of the little things right.”

Since PEDv was first found in the United States last May, there have been 7,800 positive cases in 30 states. The virus struck Ontario in January, and while there have since been about 70 positive cases across several provinces, the spread has slowed.

“Canada really has been very fortunate,” said Brockhoff. “We haven’t had a positive case reported since July 21, and that was in Perth County in Ontario. That’s encouraging.”

He said the virus likely found its way into Canada in feed — specifically porcine plasma. Now that producers are guarding against this potential source of infection, and have stepped up their other biosecurity measures, new occurrences have diminished.

“We have seen just a dramatic drop in the number of cases per week, and that’s really all because of biosecurity, biosecurity, biosecurity,” said Brockhoff.

He described how the Ontario pork industry is implementing aggressive programs to control and remove PEDv from pig barns, even if it means removing all the animals, sanitizing the facilities, and then reintroducing unaffected stock.

“They’re confident that in many or most of these herds, going into the fall the virus will be eliminated.”

Nationally, the industry is working on sanitation and control programs, and on a broad strategy related to truck transport. But the threat to Alberta producers remains, cautioned Brockhoff. He described how one feed sample here tested positive for PEDv, although it was kept out of barns.

“We do know the virus has entered the province of Alberta through feed, and more specifically through porcine plasma. So the virus has been here.”

Come fall, there will be concerns about manure management, and the arrival of new pigs that could be infected, said Brockhoff.

“With pork prices as good as they are, there are a lot of people considering bringing in pigs from other regions.”

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