With three new cases in Manitoba over a two-week period in late September, there’s renewed concern about the spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.
“We’ve been pushing it pretty hard that fall will be a tough season. We were expecting to have until November, but September was cool and wet, and those are the conditions that help spread this disease,” says Mark Fynn, animal care specialist with the Manitoba Pork Council, in the audio interview posted above.
After months of preaching about the need for tight biosecurity protocols, he says he’s concerned producers, truckers and service providers have been getting away with breaches in biosecurity during the summer. He emphasizes it should be assumed that assembly yards and abattoirs are contaminated.
“We’ve seen breaches in protocol where guys aren’t wearing disposable boot covers on site,” he says. “We’ve also heard reports that some guys aren’t even washing trucks and trailers coming back.”
They’re also seeing cases where biosecurity protocols are not being followed by visitors to hog farms.
“We’re noticing — through the surveillance and disease investigations — some serious breaches in what our service providers are doing when they come on-farm. We need service people to contact the farms before they arrive there and inform producers where they’ve been previously. They also should only enter as far as they need to,” says Fynn.
While PED has infected many hog operations in the U.S. and 63 farms in Ontario, Western Canadian hog production has largely been left unscathed, with the exception of the handful of cases in Manitoba. Fynn believes an outbreak similar to what was seen in Ontario or the U.S. is unlikely, partly due to the lower density of the hog population.
“I think we’re in a lot better position than we were a year ago or back in spring as far as what we know about the virus, and some of the things we’ve put in place to contain it,” he says. “But with three cases in two weeks, we have to be questioning our biosecurity practices. Maybe we’ve gotten away with things over summer, but it’s time to really ramp those efforts back up.”