Canadian government and industry continue to focus on prevention and preparedness
By Jackie Clark
For the first time in 40 years, African swine fever (ASF) has touched down in the western hemisphere.
Pigs in the Dominican Republic tested positive for the virus, according to a July 29 release from the Canadian Pork Council (CPC).
The CPC doesn’t have details yet on the scope of virus there or know whether it is in domestic or wild pigs, Gary Stordy told Farms.com. He’s the director of government and corporate affairs for the CPC.
“Regardless, the situation is real, there is a positive test for ASF in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “Immediate next steps are investigating if it’s possible to understand how it arrived on the island.”
ASF was present in the region 40 years ago, he explained. However, because it hasn’t been seen present since, the virus must have arrived by plane or boat, through some vector.
Understanding how the virus got into Dominican Republic is key “to ensure that we have safeguards and preventative measures here in Canada,” Stordy explained. Dominican Republic is “one of the most highly visited Caribbean countries, it’s a holiday destination for a lot of Canadians and a lot of Americans. So that becomes a concern.”
Risk to Canada includes human and feed vectors, and less likely to directly involve pork or pig imports, he added. “We don’t import pork products at all because the Dominican Republic also has a problem with Classical swine fever, which is a reportable disease.”
CPC has been hearing concern from Canadian pork producers.
“This close to them,” Stordy explained. “Previously we have been following ASF spread around the world, but it has been on the other side of the Atlantic or the other side of the Pacific, which gives us kind of a false sense of security. This has heightened their level of concern.”
The Canadian Boarder Services Agency has added Dominican Republic to the list of places that boarder officers screen for potential ASF risks, said the CPC.
At the industry level, “this serves as a reminder to ensure biosecurity protocols are in place, understanding where you’re sourcing your feed ingredients from, and frankly limiting visitations. It’s all connected to biosecurity,” Stordy said.
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