Biosecurity and vigilant reporting are key tools in the process of stopping porcine epidemic diarrhea outbreaks across Canada
By Jackie Clark
Ontario Pork reported the first confirmed case of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in 2020 in Perth County on Jan. 2. The viral disease causes vomiting and diarrhea, and tends to have high mortality in piglets and lower mortality in older pigs, Ontario Pork says.
In Ontario, industry officials have conducted sampling and reported PED cases since Jan. 2014 as part of an effort to eradicate the disease. The province had a total of 128 confirmed cases since 2014, with only 10 cases in 2019.
When cases are discovered, industry stakeholders prioritize cleaning and disinfection, and all parts of the industry employ strict biosecurity practices to help prevent the spread of the disease.
“Here in Ontario, our producers are working really hard to keep our pigs healthy,” Dr. Bethany Davidson-Eng, manager of Swine Health Ontario, told Farms.com.
However, when a case of disease is confirmed, it takes a team effort to respond.
“When a site becomes positive for a disease such as PED, our initiatives are led by the veterinarian. … It’s a collaborative process with the producer, the feed company, transport and the processors that they go to. All partners are aware and they work together to minimize the chances that disease will spread,” Davidson-Eng explained.
It involves “rescheduling everything so that we don’t infect clean barns,” she added. As an example, the positive barn may be the last one visited on a feed route to ensure the truck can immediately go to wash after the delivery.
“Once a (PED-positive) barn empties, (the farmer) goes through a process where he or she cleans, disinfects, dries, and waits a period of a few weeks before re-introducing animals,” Davidson-Eng said. “Typically, (the site) goes through rounds of testing during this period to make sure the virus is eliminated.”
The strict protocols have led to progress toward eradicating PED.
“Using heightened biosecurity and educating producers, we’ve actually reduced our PED cases in the province,” Davidson-Eng said.
Managing PED “can be a substantial loss for the producer, but it is manageable,” she added. The province and Swine Health Ontario provide some funding to help offset the costs of managing the disease, she said.
In the future, the swine industry hopes to fully eradicate PED.
“We have to keep doing what we’re doing, increasing biosecurity and remaining vigilant,” Davidson-Eng said.
“Our industry is really well prepared to deal with disease and they do an amazing job,” she added.
National Pork Board photo