Alberta lists PED as reportable disease in hogs

A ‘serious threat’ | But diagnosis of porcine epidemic diarrhea won’t trigger quarantine

The hog disease that has been devastating U.S. pigs has become a reportable disease in Alberta.

The province officially declared porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) reportable diseases in Alberta, said Alberta Agriculture veterinarian Dr. Julia Keenliside.

Only PED is a serious threat, but it is impossible to tell the difference between PED and TGE without lab tests, and both will be reportable in Alberta.

Both suspected and known cases of the two diseases must be reported to Alberta’s chief provincial veterinarian within 24 hours.

However, unlike the discovery of swine flu in a hog barn in Alberta in 2009 that halted movement of pigs, there will be no disruption with the discovery of PED.

“Reportable doesn’t mean there is going to be a quarantine or stop movement orders,” Keenliside said during a telephone conference call with pork producers and veterinarians Jan. 17.

A reportable designation allows the government to help producers control the spread of the disease, which has killed an estimated three million pigs in the United States since it was first discovered nine months ago.

“We won’t stop the movement of hogs.”

Producers can still ship pigs to slaughter plants or between provinces. The federal government will not be involved in the disease control. PED is not listed with the World Organization for Animal Health as a reportable disease and it’s unlikely any countries will stop imports because of it.

“If we get PED in Canada, the U.S. already has it so we don’t expect border closures,” she said.

“We really need early detection and reporting to be able to work co-operatively to stop this disease.”

A farm’s veterinarian and a provincial veterinarian would try and trace the source of the infection if the virus was discovered.

“We are going to give it our best shot here in Canada because I think we have a lot better biosecurity than in the U.S. I think we have a chance of stopping this.”

Keenliside also said Alberta will soon have a laboratory that can test for PED. Officials are “validating” procedure and will soon have the test available. Veterinarians can send fecal samples from pigs suspected of having PED.

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