‘War time’ biosecurity needed to prevent PED

Lessons have been learned from Manitoba’s outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus last fall, which affected about 80 operations in the province’s southeast.

Jenelle Hamblin, swine health manager with Manitoba Pork, was part of a three-month collaborative project to learn what worked and what didn’t in controlling the outbreak and to develop strategies if the virus should again become an issue.

Producers, veterinarians, truck drivers, veterinarians and others in the industry were interviewed. What did they say?

“Essentially we needed more of everything,” said Hamblin.

PED virus is easily spread without stringent attention to biosecurity. It is primarily spread via feces but can also travel on other surfaces.

Hamblin told those on a May 8 Alberta Pork-organized “telephone town hall” that workloads increased during the outbreak for virtually all parts of the production chain, from barn personnel to truck washing facilities to lab technicians analyzing samples.

In the area of communication, which often suffers in a crisis, Hamblin said the industry managed well.

Swine veterinarians met four times per week during the height of the outbreak and still meet once a month now that most affected premises are testing negative for the virus.

Parts of the sector did struggle with the need to keep some information confidential, such as the identity and location of new cases, Hamblin said.

The post-outbreak assessment included identification of continued risk. Hamblin said more information is needed on how long the virus can remain infective within manure.

She also said the outbreak fully illustrated the need for “war time” biosecurity on the farm, as opposed to the basic biosecurity protocols that should always be in place. Producers should consider what enhanced measures they can take if PED is found in nearby operations, she added.

That might include such things as a restricted access zone, limiting the number of people entering the farm and dedicating staff to individual barns.

Hamblin said some producers are dedicating equipment to specific barns to limit risk of cross-contamination between barns.

The most important message for producers, she said, is that the best offence is a good defence. To develop that, they should identify the risks “through every touch that you have on your farm.”

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