Seneca Valley Virus growing problem in U.S.

Seneca Valley Virus, an illness in pigs, is on the rise in parts of the United States, and that should put Canadian hog producers on alert.

Dr. Julia Keenliside, veterinary epidemiologist with Alberta Agriculture, said the U.S. reported 200 cases of SVV in 2015, but in 2017 there were 300 cases reported in Wisconsin alone.

“The American Midwest seems to be a real focus of this disease, where there’s lots of movement of pigs,” Keenliside said during Dec. 14 a session organized by Alberta Pork.

The main concern with Seneca Valley is that its symptoms are similar to those of foot-and-mouth disease, a reportable illness with potential to close trade borders and cause mass testing. Like foot-and-mouth, Seneca Valley symptoms include blisters around the snout, lips and tongue of pigs, as well as lesions around the hoof.

“It mimics foot-and-mouth disease, and that’s why it’s such a concern is it triggers a foreign animal disease investigation brought by the federal government in both the U.S. and Canada when we see blisters, because foot-and-mouth is a huge trade issue,” said Keenliside.

Foot-and-mouth hasn’t been found in Canada for more than 60 years.

Keenliside said Seneca Valley is transmitted in the same way as porcine epidemic diarrhea, in feces on trucks, boots or other objects. Symptoms appear very quickly after initial contact, often within a day of exposure.

In the U.S., there have been cases where pigs showed no signs of Seneca Valley at the farm but had arrived at the packing plant with blisters on their feet and snouts.

“We’re pretty sure that the virus doesn’t exist in Canada, but you know PED made its way to Canada from the U.S., so we have to be watchful and make sure that Seneca doesn’t either,” said Keenliside.

About Seneca Valley Virus

  • a vesicular disease discovered in 2002
  • belongs to same general family as foot-and-mouth
  • early symptoms include blisters on snout and coronary band above hoofs
  • may or may not cause diarrhea
  • increases mortality in young piglets
  • causes lethargy in older animals
  • there is no vaccine
  • is not a threat to humans or to food safety

Sources: Swine Health Information Center, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Manitoba Pork


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