Alberta Agriculture confirmed four cases of the disease in the first three months of 2019
By Diego Flammini
No Alberta hog farms have tested positive for a deadly virus in the past two months.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry hasn’t had a new case of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in eight weeks, Dr. Julia Keenliside, a veterinary epidemiologist with the provincial ag ministry, said during a town hall teleconference on Tuesday.
“The fact that we’re not seeing any positives tells us we don’t likely have any farms out there that are infected with the disease. This is all very good news for Alberta,” she said.
Officials confirmed four cases of the disease on central and southern Alberta pork farms in the first three months of the year.
Some normal operations have resumed at most of the infected sites.
Three of the farms have spread manure following additional biosecurity practices.
“We know that the virus can remain in the manure for several months and we think it can remain alive in manure for four to six months, so we need to be very careful about how manure is spread,” Keenliside said.
Two of the operations have manure-spreading equipment that remains on the farm. That situation is optimal for reducing the risk for infection through manure. How the virus entered Alberta remains unknown, but traceability has ruled out abattoirs and assembly yards, she added.
Three of the four farms have also resumed marketing activities.
The farms didn’t transport any pigs for processing for between four and six weeks after exposure to the virus. Once transportation started up, officials monitored the routes, said Keith Lehman, chief provincial veterinarian with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“We were able to use our premises identification database to pull up the locations of farms relative to routes and choose routes that minimized the number of swine farms along the route to the processors,” he said during the conference call.
Overall, the Alberta pork industry has scaled up its surveillance programs to minimize the risk of further PED cases.
Surveillance has increased by 110 per cent since the first outbreak in January, Javier Bahamon, quality assurance and production manager with Alberta Pork, said in the conference call.
Investigators collected over 2,000 samples from processors, assembly yards and truck washes, he said.