Take measures to keep virus under wraps

Increase biosecurity This disease doesn’t have legs so it can be controlled, says Manitoba Pork official

Hog producers shouldn’t accept that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus is inevitably going to hit their farms, says Mark Fynn of Manitoba Pork.


He said disease transmission can be prevented, even in the midst of widespread infection.


“If we don’t have the virus in our province right now, our point of contacts for bringing the virus in are relatively few,” Fynn said during a panel discussion at the Manitoba Swine Seminar.


“For now, we have fairly few things to really focus on, so spend a lot of time and focus on those areas and make sure to keep it out.”


PED has spread widely through the North American hog herd but has not broken out in Western Canada. It is widespread in Iowa and Minnesota, areas tightly connected to Manitoba’s hog industry and the destination for many trucks that haul weanlings from Manitoba.


Fynn said many operations in Iowa have not been infected, even though barns all around them have the disease. 


Following good biosecurity standards appears to reduce infection risk by about 90 percent.


Fynn said infection risk now comes from the few high-traffic areas that connect the Midwest to Manitoba, so there’s a good chance that the disease can be kept out if those are kept clean and monitored.


Manitoba Agriculture veterinarian Glen Duizer said provincial monitoring and control efforts are now focused on the riskiest areas for spread.


Fynn said producers should do everything they can to keep the disease off their farms because much wider control efforts will be needed once it arrives, involving slaughter plants and rendering facilities and requiring much greater control of farm visitors.


Veterinarian Mike Sheridan told farmers that the disease can’t just spread by itself, which means it can be controlled.


“I think it’s very important that you realize that this thing does not have legs,” said Sheridan.


It also does not seem to spread by respiratory infection, which means it probably doesn’t spread through the air, unlike other coronaviruses such as transmissible gastro-
enteritis.


Sheridan said healthy animals won’t likely become sick if they can be kept away from infected feces.