PEDv Cases Popping Up in Manitoba, Raising Suspicions About CFIA's Truck Wash Policy

After going nearly 500 days without any new cases, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has been found on three Manitoba hog farms in a span of 10 days.

On Saturday, the province’s chief veterinary officer confirmed the third case in a sow barn in the southeast region of the province. It follows positive PEDv samples from a finisher barn in the southeast on June 2 and a sow barn in the southeast on May 26. The most recent case before this trio was found on January 2, 2015.

The three sites are “reasonably close, not next door,” explains Andrew Dickson, general manager of the Manitoba Pork Council, in the update below.

“They’re different operations, owned by different people with different feed companies and so on, so part of this just doesn’t make sense as to why they would’ve gotten the disease,” he says. “They’re all practicing good biosecurity.”

There’s a big question hanging over these cases: are they related to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reverting to old truck wash policy at the start of May?

Manitoba Pork, the chief veterinarians for the prairie provinces and many swine industry vets say the regulatory changes increase the risk of introducing PEDv from the U.S. to pigs in Western Canada (read more here). Federal regulations require trucks to be washed in the U.S. before returning to Canada, but an emergency order implemented in 2014 allowed them to return to Canada to be washed at certified facilities instead of visiting American wash bays alongside trucks known to be contaminated with PEDv. That order expired on May 1.

“Is it coincidental? I don’t know. We have no hard evidence to show there’s a direct link between the change in the regulations and that these farms became infected,” says Dickson. “On the other hand, I don’t think CFIA has any evidence to show otherwise either.”

“We have our suspicions, but the big thing here is the change in the regulations essentially reduced the techniques or barriers we had in place to keep the disease out of the province, in our view,” he continues.

Dickson says the Canadian Pork Council is in contact with the federal agriculture minister’s office regarding the outbreak and they’re awaiting his response. Lawrence MacAulay previously indicated he would not intervene in the CFIA’s rules for washing livestock trailers.

In addition to following biosecurity practices, Dickson urges hog producers to sign a waiver form that allows veterinarians to discuss PEDv case details with each other and the pork council.

“I was on a conference call last week with veterinarians from across the province and we couldn’t talk about where these diseases were other than it’s in southeast Manitoba. This is patently ridiculous,” he says.

There’s also hope the current weather forecast for drier conditions will prevail, as recent rains have been conducive for the spread of PEDv. Dickson notes the number of new cases tends to go down with hot, dry weather.

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