Working hard to keep hogs healthy and the province free of PEDv

Over the past year the Manitoba Pork Council (MPC) and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) have been working on a surveillance program to prevent the introduction and spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) in Manitoba.

The program was launched in February 2014 as a response to the PEDv cases reported in Ontario and areas of the United States to which Manitoba transports a large number of pigs every week. Environmental testing is done to find traces of the disease in facilities, and pigs showing symptoms are also tested.

"We monitor high traffic facilities within the province to determine whether or not we have it on farm or if we're bringing it in from places like the U.S.," said Mark Fynn, manager, animal health and welfare programs with MPC. "The second Manitoba case was found through the monitoring program, so we know it works."

Tailoring the program to the province's needs

Changes have already been made to the program over the last year. "We've refined the program so we're doing less samples at sites where we saw the virus circulating frequently. We've gone from 125 to about 80 to 90 samples weekly," he said. "It means we're now able to do accurate testing at a lower cost."

Until May 2013, PEDv had not been reported in pigs in North America. Since then, the disease has impacted the livelihood of affected U.S. producers, affecting more than a million piglets in sow herds and causing high mortality in nursing pigs.

PEDv is carried in fecal matter and on contaminated equipment and transport vehicles in high traffic areas such as slaughter plants, assembly yards and other premises. Maintaining clean and sanitary premises is a big part of preventing the disease from spreading, but contact with the disease can still occur.

"We don't want it to walk through 30 or 40 herds at a time," said Glen Duizer, animal health veterinarian with MAFRD. "Do I think we're going to keep it out of the province forever? No. But with projects like this we can certainly limit its impact and keep each case isolated."

Team effort to keep disease impact low

So far the province has experienced five isolated cases of PEDv. If the disease is found in a high traffic area, it can usually be traced back to a particular farm.

"We've had an incredible amount of co-operation from producers and have been able to do testing on 220 farms in the province. We want to help keep our producers safe and be ready to help them if they're hit with this," Duizer said.

Manitoba follows the same style and guidelines of surveillance as Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia in a joint effort to keep the impact of PEDv very low in western Canada.

The project is supported by the Growing Forward 2 - Growing Actions program.