Two more Manitoba cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea were confirmed June 2 and June 4, creating worry among hog producers, particularly in the southeastern part of the province where one-third to one-half of Manitoba’s hogs are raised.
The June 2 case occurred in a finisher barn and the June 4 case in a sow barn. A case confirmed May 26 in another sow barn was the first to be found in 18 months within the province.
Andrew Dickson, general manager with Manitoba Pork, said June 6 that it is unclear whether the cases are related.
“That’s one of the problems we’ve had with all these cases, all the ones that we’ve had in Manitoba. We’ve had a real challenge to try to determine how did they get the disease in the first place.”
PED virus, which is almost always fatal to piglets, is a reportable disease in Manitoba, but information on the identity of the barn owners and exact locations is confidential.
Dickson said Manitoba Pork is encouraging producers and swine veterinarians to tell provincial authorities immediately if they suspect PED. That would speed up testing and confirmation and potentially help control spread.
Producers can also sign a waiver that would allow quicker action on testing and control, without giving up their confidentiality, said Dickson. It gives the herd veterinarian permission to share site status and location with other veterinarians and with Manitoba Pork.
The three recent cases of PED in Manitoba occurred about one month after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency cancelled an emergency truck washing protocol that was supported by hog producers across Western Canada.
That protocol allowed hog transport trucks returning from the United States to be sealed and then washed thoroughly at Canadian facilities.
On May 2, the CFIA reverted to regulations under the Animal Health Act that require trucks to be washed on the U.S. side of the border, where facilities are less thorough and where thousands of barns have been and continue to be infected with PED virus.
Dickson said there is no confirmed connection between the three recent Manitoba cases and CFIA’s action.
“We’ve had a lot of people ask about that … and so far we haven’t been able to draw any link between the change in the regulation on May 2 and the cases we’ve had to date,” he said.
“But I don’t think the federal government can show that there hasn’t been.
“Our view is that the protocol (that was) in place was another defence measure, and the federal government going back to an old regulation gives us concern that we’ve reduced the protection that we’re trying to provide to the environment in which our barns operate.”
Dickson said pork producers continue to press the federal government to update regulations so special measures can be used to prevent diseases from entering the country.
He also encouraged producers to re-examine biosecurity on their farms.
“They’ve got to really raise their standards on this matter. You can’t waiver in the management techniques that you use on your farm on a daily basis.”