June 26, 2017
Canada traces PED woes to US wash stations
The porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus may have spread to Canada from neighbouring US via the wash stations visited by Canadian trailers transporting exported hogs.
Canadian Pork Council (CPC) chair Rick Bergmann claimed that Canada had remained relatively disease-free until trailers carrying hogs for export to the US were directed to go to US wash stations that may have had contact with PED virus before returning to Canada.
Before this, according to CPC, Canadian trailers carrying hogs for export to the US did not have to go to US wash stations. "Instead they returned to Canadian wash stations that had stringent biosecurity measures in place".
Bergmann said that when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) cancelled this practice in 2015 and trailers were required to go to US wash station before returning to Canada, "we knew it was a matter of time before PED was identified on Canadian hog farms".
"Unfortunately, we have it now and we need to focus on recovery. This means putting containment and surveillance measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus any further", he said. "We need to work together to find workable solutions to deal with the situation and assist the Canadian pork producers coping with the emotional stress while dealing with PED on their farms."
Addressing PED virus issue
Bergmann said Canada's pork sector wants to work with federal and provincial government to address the issue of PED virus in Canada. Western Canadian hog producers took this message to the House of Commons standing committee on agriculture and agri-food on June 15.
PED causes severe dehydration and diarrhea in pigs. It is generally fatal in very young animals with over 80% mortality rates, though older animals can recover. PED is not transmitted to humans or other animals and is not a food-safety risk. The first cases were reported in the US in 2013 and in Canada in 2014. CPC did not explain how Canada got the virus in 2014, before Canadian hog-export trailers were directed to pass by wash stations in the US.
CPC said that the disease is endemic in the US, where it is estimated there were 200 to 300 cases per week between 2013 and 2014.
Canada, it added, has been successful in minimizing PED's impact. Ontario reported 101 cases since the first case in January 2014, while Manitoba has had 28 cases since its first case in February 2014.
Canada's pork industry produces more than 25.5 million animals a year. Last year it exported over 1 million tonnes of pork and pork products, valued at over $3.2 billion, to 90 countries.-Rick Alberto