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Senecavirus A found in Ont. sow herd

Senecavirus A found in Ont. sow herd

This is the first time the virus has been found on an Ont. farm


By Jonathan Martin
Staff Writer

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed yesterday that it found Senecavirus A (SVA) on an Ontario farm on June 29.

The disease does not pose a risk to public health or food safety, though it can cause blisters or ulcers on pigs’ heads and along the coronary band just above their hoofs. They may develop fevers, appear lethargic and become lame. The virus can even increase pre-weaning mortality slightly, Dr. Christa Arsenault, a lead veterinarian with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), told

“Like most viruses, SVA likes to spread pig-to-pig,” she said. “It can also spread indirectly through contaminated objects like equipment, footwear, clothing, transport trailers or anything that might have contact with the virus and then with pigs.”

OMAFRA considers SVA to be “immediately notifiable,” which means veterinarians must report suspected cases to the CFIA as soon as they rule out foreign animal diseases.

The disease hadn’t been detected on any Ontario farm before June 29, though the virus was previously found in Ontario assembly sites. The sites have constant contact with American products, where the disease has infected herds for more than 30 years, but there is no way to know how the virus made its way onto Canadian soil.

No licensed vaccine or treatment exists for infected pigs and researchers aren’t sure how long it can survive outside of a host.

“There’s a lot we don’t know about this virus,” Arsenault said. “It is worth noting that SVA doesn’t cause as much damage as other viruses so they may have taken priority.”

The CFIA collected samples from the infected Ontario farm after the herd’s veterinarian told the agency the animals were off feed, developing lesions and saw an increased rate in pre-weaning death. The samples tested negative for diseases with similar symptoms, such as foot-and-mouth disease, but came back positive for SVA.

“Associated farms” are being tested and observed, a government notice says.

Farmers should train their staff to recognize SVA’s clinical signs and make sure they disinfect any potential viral transport vehicles, Arsenault said.

“The quicker (the virus) is detected, the quicker we can react,” she added.

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