The province only saw three confirmed cases of the disease last year
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba’s pork sector experienced a significant decrease in the number of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) cases in 2020 compared to 2019.
The industry only had three confirmed cases of PED last year compared to 82 in 2019.
Those numbers represent a decrease of 96 per cent.
“Seeing only three cases confirmed was a very happy surprise,” Jenelle Hamblin, manager of swine health programs with Manitoba Pork, told Farms.com. “There was a lot of work that was done prior to 2020 following the outbreak of 2019 to evaluate and enhance biosecurity protocols.”
Manitoba’s pork industry has dealt with PED every year since 2014.
Between 2014 and 2020 the sector has had 192 total confirmed cases of the disease.
The pandemic may have played a role in the decline in PED cases in 2020.
While there’s no concrete data to prove it, comparing times of the year when cases of PED start to pop up with COVID measures in the province suggest the slowdown in movements helped reduce the volume of confirmed PED cases.
“The question that keeps coming up is why were the numbers so low in 2020 and what factors were at play,” Hamblin said. “It’s very much my opinion and I’d like to be able to have some data to support the claim, but the reduced movements we saw due to the pandemic coincided perfectly with when we typically see cases of PED come online in Manitoba.”
Premier Brian Pallister declared a state of emergency and placed limits on public gatherings on March 20.
That time of year is usually when pork producers would start to see instances of PED, Hamblin said.
“We normally see PED cases start to pop up in April and May, when we were pretty much still in a full lockdown, she said. “We had our first two cases in June and another one in July. The actions we took during that timeframe related to COVID were really biosecurity actions and I can’t see how they didn’t impact our numbers in 2020.”
Moving forward, the pork sector needs to continue its vigilant approach to biosecurity.
Having only three cases in the province in 2020 is no reason for the industry to let its guard down, Hamblin said.
“To say (PED) is not here is inaccurate,” she said. “We know it’s something we’ll have to continue to protect against.”