By Bernard Tobin, Ontario field editor
This story was originally published on January 28, 2014. For continually updated information click here.
Ontario’s second case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has been confirmed at a Chatham-Kent region farm and a third farm is being investigated in the same area. (Editor’s note: The number now sits at 4 farms with confirmed infection).
The new cases come only days after a farm in Middlesex County was confirmed with the first positive case of PEDv in Canada. Ontario’s Chief Veterinary Officer Greg Douglas told a media conference on Monday that industry officials are counting on increasingly vigilant biosecurity measures to slow and mitigate the spread of the virus.
“The confirmed case, second case and the third under suspicion certainly does change the situation, the reality here in Ontario,” said Douglas, noting that PEDv only affects pigs and has no implications for human health.
The first case of PEDv in the US was diagnosed last May. Since then, the virus has killed more than one million pigs in 23 states. Mortality rates can reach up to 100 percent in suckling pigs. The death rate declines as pigs are weaned. Douglas reported that the Middlesex farm, a 500 sow farrow-to-finish operation, has experienced 100 per cent mortality in two- to five-day-old pigs. About 200 to 300 pigs have died so far.
Douglas expects mortality rates to be lower on the second farm – a 3,000 animal finishing barn – because there are no piglets on-site. “On the second and third farm, the mortality will certainly be more limited. Fifteen to 20 per cent of the animals are showing signs of vomiting and diarrhea consistent with what we saw in the US.”
The source of the virus on the two infected farms has not been confirmed, but Douglas said evidence does “point in some strong directions.”
“History has shown, and it’s consistent with our investigation here in Ontario, that mechanical spread is what we expect and it’s the avenues of investigation that we’re pursuing in terms of conveyances, trucks trailers, and the like,” said Douglas who noted that human beings are also “great vehicles to disseminate disease.”
“We have all kinds of players in the Ontario system and we’ve done an awful lot of environmental sampling as trace-outs and trace-ins to the farms. We’ve had some positive samples that we’re exploring and that allows us to say that there is some degree of a link between various players in the Ontario situation.”
Douglas declined to comment further noting that his team is committed to guarding the confidentiality of the producers and other industry stakeholders who have given the investigation