Hogs at a “high-traffic site” in Westman have tested positive for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, according to the acting chief veterinarian officer for the province.
“We had pigs showing clinical signs of the disease and we believe they picked it up at that site,” acting CVO Dr. Glen Duizer said. “It’s not unexpected in a way, but we didn’t expect to see it in the animal first, we would have expected to see it in the environment first.”
Duizer described a “high-traffic site” as any place where a large number of hogs are moved and handled. Federal and provincial processing facilities, truck-wash stations, livestock assembly yards and livestock trailers all meet the criteria.
“I can’t identify the site,” Duizer said when pressed on where the outbreak occurred. “We’re not trying to be coy about it, but we want these companies to participate in the surveillance program and by the same token we recognize the need for confidentiality.”
The source of the virus has yet to be determined, according to Duizer.
It is the second time the virus has been found in live animals.
In the first case, a farm near Morris was infected. In that case, the cause of the virus was never determined, although provincial veterinarian officials ruled out feed and the movement of sick pigs onto the site.
Another two cases were confirmed in environmental samples from high-traffic sites.
None of the previous tests are believed to be linked to the latest case.
There are now 51 farm premises that have tested positive for the virus in Canada — one in Manitoba, one in Prince Edward Island, one in Quebec and 48 in Ontario.
The spread in Ontario was initially linked to contaminated feed. Once the feed had infected the pigs, there was a critical mass large enough to create an outbreak spreading from barn to barn.
While the situation is dire in Ontario, it’s the United States that poses the biggest threat to Manitoba producers.
“We have a lot of north-south connection so that exposure is there,” Duizer said.
The virus, which is most commonly spread by hogs ingesting contaminated feces, has been confirmed in 27 states as of March 12, according to the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. While there isn’t an official count on the number of American hogs that have died as a result of the disease, early estimates are between three and five million.
“The risk is quite high,” Duizer said. “That’s why we’re implementing very tight biosecurity.”
The disease poses no threat to food safety as it doesn’t affect humans.
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