Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Deadly pig virus slowed by steps taken since U.S. outbreak gave 'heads up'

This June, 28, 2012 photo shows hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, M. Spencer Green

Enlarge Image

This June, 28, 2012 photo shows hogs at a farm in Buckhart, Ill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, M. Spencer Green

TORONTO - The head of an agency tracking pig health says a deadly virus that has hit swine farms in at least two provinces would be spreading more swiftly throughout the country if it weren't for stricter measures taken after a U.S. outbreak.

Canadian Swine Health Board executive director Robert Harding said the emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea in the United States last May gave the pig industry and governments here a "heads up" that, along with more vigilant farm practices in recent years, has helped minimize its impact thus far.

"If we didn't have the detailed focus on biosecurity in Canada, within the Canadian industry, I think it's pretty evident that this disease would already have spread right across the country," he said Saturday.

The highly contagious virus has killed millions of piglets in the United States but poses no risk to human health or safety. It first emerged in Canada less than a month ago at a southwestern Ontario pig farm.

A pair of new cases confirmed Friday have raised Ontario's total to 16 affected farms, while this week has also seen a suspected case on Prince Edward Island and one confirmed instance of the virus in Manitoba.

Harding said that while it wasn't a given PED would reach Canadian barns, the extent of its spread here so far has been less than many had expected.

"The question is, well how did Canada keep it out for so long? Because there's a lot of integrated parts of our industries back-and-forth across the border with Canada and the U.S."

He said that while it's not clear just how the virus got into Canada, one way the disease can spread is through the vehicles carrying swine to and from farms — a vector that has been a focus in the battle against PED.

Pig-hauling trucks are being thoroughly washed before rolling onto farms, while even boots and clothing worn outside are being swapped for farm-only pairs, as PED can be carried in manure.

Such precautions are impeding the virus, and with relatively few cases "we still have an opportunity to win this battle," said Harding, whose watchdog group is composed of pork industry and veterinarian associations.

The provinces and Ottawa are working together to tighten biosecurity efforts and share information, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is letting veterinarians import a special emergency vaccine.

"The game plan now moving forward is every province is stronger in their resolve to do what we have to do to make sure this doesn't spread any further," Harding said.

"Each of these individual cases is being looked at with the goal of being able to contain and then eliminate the disease."

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media