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Pig Virus ‘Suspected’ in PEI, Three New Cases in Ontario

PED Cases Confirmed in Ontario, Manitoba

By Amanda Brodhagen,

Prince Edward Island (PEI) has a suspected case of the pig-killing virus – porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), and Ontario has three new cases.

This is the latest development in the spread of PED - the virus has now been detected in Ontario, Manitoba and another case is under investigation in PEI.

“It’s a highly suspect case, it’s been confirmed locally,” said Robert Harding, Executive Director of the Canadian Swine Health Board.

Samples from the PEI farm in question have been submitted to the national lab in Winnipeg for further testing.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was reached for comment, but deferred our inquiry about the suspected PED case in PEI to the province’s department of agriculture. “Investigations and responses to PED are led by provincial authorities and the industry,” said Guy Gravelle, Media Relations representative for CFIA.  

“The CFIA continues to work with provincial authorities by providing assistance to their investigations, collaborating closely with the CBSA on vigilance at the border, liaising with officials in the US and engaging with industry on maintaining effective biosecurity on farm,” he said.

The virus was first detected at a farm on Jan. 22, in Oxford County, Ont. There are now 16 PED diagnoses in Ontario, and three new cases were confirmed Feb. 14 in Perth, Niagara and Leeds-Grenville counties. One case was confirmed in Manitoba Feb. 14.

Island pork producers were notified of a suspected PED case on Feb. 13.

“As swine producers we are very concerned about this devastating disease,” said Scott Dingwell, PEI pork producer. “We are aware that it is not a food safety issue or a risk to people…but it does have great implications for pork production,” he said.

Dingwell said that in light of the disease, Island pork producers have remained vigilant to maintain and strengthen on farm biosecurity measures.

PEI’s Hog Commodity Marketing Board has been working with producers for months to try and prepare for a possible PED occurrence. “Our local association has been very active on the PED file,” explained Dingwell.

Similar to other provincial pork associations, PEI has been holding information sessions and workshops to share with farmers the best strategies to prevent PED.

“There has been a tremendous amount of cooperation on this [PED] across the country,” said Harding. “The only way we can fight this is by working together,” he said.

When asked about the possible connection between PED and swine feed, Harding said it is too early to connect the dots and cautioned about drawing conclusions until we have all the information available.

The CFIA said it is working with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) to determine if there is any link between the recent occurrences of PED in Ontario and animal feed. OMAF found traces of the virus DNA in swine feeds.

“It is worth noting however that even though PED genetic material has been found, it does not mean that the virus is active in the feed or capable of transmitting the disease. In fact, before being sold, feed goes through a heat treatment process to inactivate most of the pathogens, including PED,” explained Gravelle

The CFIA said that livestock feeds manufactured and sold in Canada or imported are safe, but as a precautionary measure will conduct bio-assays on the feed samples that tested positive for PED. “These tests will confirm if there is a presence of live PED virus that can cause disease in the feed samples,” said Gravelle.

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