Keeping ASF out of Canada

Keeping ASF out of Canada
Sep 25, 2018

Industry expert spoke about the ways the disease could enter North American pork production

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

African Swine Fever (ASF) could enter Canada’s pork industry through five pathways. Fortunately, producers can take proactive measures to prevent contamination on their farms.

Last week, pork industry stakeholders held a town hall teleconference in collaboration with Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network (CWSHIN), Alberta Pork, Saskatchewan Pork and Manitoba Pork. ASF was the main topic of discussion. Producers listened in and asked questions following the call.

Dr. Jette Christensen, manager of CWSHIN, spoke to the vectors that could allow ASF to enter Canada. She focused on five potential pathways for the disease:

1.       live animals, semen and embryos

2.       food scraps and swill feeding

3.       contaminated feed ingredients

4.       people travelling

5.       wildlife

“Feed ingredients could either be contaminated directly with African Swine Fever because the virus is in the ingredients or it could be on bags and other equipment transporting the feed,” Christensen said in the call.

The virus is also very hardy and is stable over a range of temperatures and pH. In addition, processes including meat curing, drying or freezing do not kill the virus, Dr. Egan Brockhoff, veterinary counsel with the Canadian Pork Council, added.

“If people travel from farms in affected areas to Canada and go directly on a farm, they could be bringing African Swine Fever in,” Chistensen said. People travelling to Canada with meat from infected countries could also bring the virus with them.

Wildlife has spread ASF in Europe and, even though wildlife may not be able to cross the Atlantic Ocean, hunters could carry the disease to Canada.

“If people go hunting in areas with African Swine Fever, so that would be Africa, eastern Europe, (or China), and come back and are contaminated with,” the virus, wildlife would be the cause, she said. 

ASF would quickly cross borders to and from the United States, but prevention is all about biosecurity on the farm, Christensen warned.

Canada’s Food and Inspection Agency has stringent regulations in place to prevent ASF’s entry to Canada and pork producers can also work to keep the virus from entering their operations.

Farmers can restrict access to their farms, have control of animal movement and oversee biosecurity, Christensen said.

However, farmers have less control over feed entering the farm. So, producers are encouraged to speak with their suppliers to ensure the feed they buy is free of contaminants.

National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff. Des Moines, IA USA photo

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