Hog farms hard hit by epidemic

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus continues to devastate hog farms, especially in the United States. But Alberta remains PED-free, confirms Egan Brockhoff, biosecurity co-ordinator with Alberta Pork and a partner with Prairie Swine Health Services of Red Deer.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus continues to devastate hog farms, especially in the United States. But Alberta remains PED-free, confirms Egan Brockhoff, biosecurity co-ordinator with Alberta Pork and a partner with Prairie Swine Health Services of Red Deer.

“The entire U.S. herd has been so dramatically affected,” said Brockhoff during an Alberta Pork teleconference on Friday.

“They’re currently reporting 8,500 PED cases.”

Thirty-one states have had positive PED tests, he said, including all of the major pork producing states. About 50 new sites in the U.S. test positive for the disease every week.

Asian countries like Japan have also been affected, said Brockhoff.

“There’s no question that it continues to move throughout the pig world in a very significant way.”

Earlier this week, Manitoba’s chief veterinary officer confirmed his province’s fifth on-farm case of PED. The virus had been found on two other farms last week.

“Canada has just over 70 confirmed cases since Jan. 22 of 2014,” said Brockhoff.

While the virus has also been found in Quebec and Prince Edward Island, it’s Ontario that’s been the site of most of the cases. But efforts there to eradicate PED are showing signs of success.

“They believe right now that they have approximately 34 sites that were positive presumed negative again,” said Brockhoff. “That’s really encouraging.”

In addition to urging producers to ramp up their biosecurity measures, Alberta Pork has been conducting an aggressive testing program for the past 37 weeks — focusing on high-traffic sites like assembly areas, processing facilities and truck washes.

“We continue to have all negative samples, and we’ve taken nearly 4,500 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests across Alberta since we began the program,” said Brockhoff.

It’s critical that producers remain diligent, he added, especially with the virus so prevalent elsewhere and fall manure spreading underway.

PED is often fatal to young pigs, but does not affect humans and is not considered a food safety issue.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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