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Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia free of PED
Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia free of PED

Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia free of PED

But Manitoba currently has 78 PED-infected farms

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter

Most swine farms in Western Canada remain free of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), according to Dr. Julia Keenliside, a veterinary epidemiologist with Alberta Agriculture.

Dr. Keenliside made the announcement during an Alberta Pork PED telephone town hall on Thursday.

“I’d like to confirm that we have not had any positive PED confirmed in a pig or on a premise in Alberta, Saskatchewan or British Columbia since the start of the (Manitoba) outbreak (which began in February 2014),” she said. “This is a fantastic piece of news.”

But just because those three provinces aren’t experiencing PED, doesn’t mean surveillance measures have relaxed.

Alberta and Saskatchewan officials collect weekly, voluntary samples from abattoirs, assembly yards, trucks, and truck wash stations.

The test the officials use, called a PCR test, identifies whether the viral protein from the virus is present and not necessarily if the virus is alive, Keenliside said. So a positive test doesn’t always equate to a PED confirmation.

“The test just tells us that the virus was once there,” she said. “We know this virus protein can persist for a long time, sometimes after one or two truck washes, which makes (PED) a difficult virus to remove from the environment sometimes.”

As some provinces try to keep their PED outbreaks at zero, Manitoba continues to fight the current outbreak in the province.

Since 2014, 88 Manitoba farms have had confirmed cases of PED. But that number dropped to 78 infected premises, according to Dr. Glen Duizer, an animal health veterinarian with Manitoba Agriculture.

“25 of (the infected premises) are sow herds, 16 are nurseries and 37 are finisher operations,” he said during the town hall teleconference, adding there are more than one million hogs under surveillance.

The latest confirmed case of PED in Manitoba occurred on Sept. 7. Since then, no new cases have arisen and some farms are seeing healthier pigs.

“32 of our operations have moved to what we consider a transitional status, which means they have been able to ensure that pigs coming off their farms are negative for PED,” he said. “Additionally, six of those 32 premises have moved on to become presumptive negative. By presumptive negative we mean not only the pigs, but facilities around the premises are negative for PED.”

Producers and processors in all provinces should be commended for their role in keeping PED outbreaks as controlled as possible, Keenliside said.

“I would like to send a thank you to everybody involved in the surveillance programs as well as involved in keeping Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. free of PED,” she said. “And a thank you goes out to (Dr. Duizer) and the crew in Manitoba for keeping the spread within the borders of Manitoba.”