'The risk is low, the risk is real': Vet, producer talk African Swine Fever

With more than 20 cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) reported overseas, Canadian hog producers are taking note of this serious disease.

Stewart Skinner, a hog producer from near Listowel, Ont., says he’s worried it will come to Canada through person-to-person, or rather, farm-to-farm contact.

“Without sounding alarmist, if we did have a case in Canada before the U.S. had a case, I could see us losing our U.S. market and other markets overnight which would be absolutely devastating,” Stewart says.

ASF has never been found in North America, according to Dr. Egan Brockhoff who is the veterinary councillor for the Canadian Pork Council. He points out as the virus has spread, however, to western and eastern Europe, and that’s cause for concern.

“(It) has really raised eyebrows globally, (including) Canadian pork producers, and Canadian veterinarians, that have really started to focus on, ‘where are our risks?’ and ‘what can we do to ensure this virus doesn’t come into Canada?’” Brockhoff says.

When it comes to preventive measures, Brockhoff says there is a chance the virus could come to Canada through unregistered feed.

“We know the risk is low, but we know the risk is real, as the virus starts to spread across China, the opportunity for contamination of another virus goes up … it’s critical that we understand where our ingredients come from and the risk they pose,” Brockhoff says.

He recommends, if you get your feed “off the back of a truck” be sure to rinse the bag off with a strong disinfectant and leave it for at least 21 to 30 days. That way if the virus is present, it would be fully killed before you open that bag in your barn.

Listen to the full interview about ASF between Skinner, Brockhoff and news lead Jessika Guse in the podcast below.

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