Manitoba’s swine veterinarians hope to see porcine epidemic diarrhea virus disappear from the provincial herd within weeks.
The last active infection was found Jan. 25 in a few animals on a previously infected farm, and control efforts there appear to have stopped it spread.
“We haven’t seen any spread from that site since,” Glen Duizer of Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office, said in a presentation to the Manitoba Swine Seminar.
“All previously positive herds are reporting effective biocontainment with elimination well underway.”
Duizer said he hopes to see clean-up efforts in the Manitoba industry completed by May. The outbreak, which began April 28, 2017, was the “largest animal health outbreak the province ever had.”
The centre of the outbreak was just southwest of Steinbach in the middle of the most heavily populated area of the provincial herd and where the greatest number of sow barns are located.
Almost 200 barns were infected over the course of the outbreak, but those have been cleaned out and the animals in them given immunity and cleared of the disease.
It has been an exhausting process for farmers, barn workers, veterinarians and truckers.
Veterinarian Jen Demare said the extra work undertaken to give sows immunity to protect piglets involved six to eight hours a day of mixing manure, water and feed with infected material. That material would prompt the sows’ bodies to produce antibodies to pass on to a litter.
“You want a high immunity in that piglet, you want a low challenge of virus in the environment or coming from Mom, and that equals healthy piglets,” said Demare.
The immunity is passed on through colostrum and is effective as long as each piglet is getting enough from the teats. A piglet that is unable to get enough needs to be removed for the sake of the rest of the animals, who would be vulnerable if it got sick.
The extra work for barn workers was made more trying by the need to put down many sick and dying piglets infected with PED.
“That’s not easy for anybody,” said Demare.
Truckers also faced extra demand from circuitous routes created by the need for five kilometre buffer zones imposed around hog barns. In one case that turned a normally six to eight km patch of road into a 68 km workaround.
Farmers also needed to restructure their shipping and deliveries. Avoiding assembly yards became a necessity, and shipping fewer times per week important.
Keeping exposed pigs away from non-exposed pigs took a lot of juggling, and keeping pigs from areas with infections away from areas that had none was a challenge.
Duizer said the intense efforts have paid off, with the outbreak fading, but he encouraged farmers to be conscious of risks and to avoid anything that could bring re-exposure.
Operators need to understand that existing biosecurity protocols probably aren’t enough to keep herds safe from PEDv.
“With this virus, if you make a mistake and it’s right there (in your area), it’s probably going to find it’s way in,” said Duizer.