Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Canada not ready for pig virus: board

An animal health board says Canada is not ready to deal with a virus that has been sweeping through farms in the United States, killing millions of baby pigs.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea has not been found in Canada, but producers worry it quickly could ravage hog farms here if the pathogen makes it across the border.

“Good grief, it would be chaos if it was discovered here, as well. There is still a tremendous amount of work to do,” Robert Harding, executive director of the Canadian Swine Health Board, said from Ottawa.
“If this hits, it would be a catastrophic blow to our industry,” he warned.
The Canadian Pork Council estimates producers export about four million live young pigs to the U.S. each year, with transport trucks crossing the border at various points across the country almost every day.
The health board warns this highly-contagious PED virus can kill every baby pig in a barn.
The board is funded by Ottawa and the pork industry, and its members include the Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians and veterinary colleges.
Part of the challenge of dealing with PED is that it first appeared in the U.S. just last spring and already has spread to 22 states.
Harding said PED is not a federally-reportable disease in Canada, which means there is no single set of protocols to help prevent it from spreading here or to deal with an outbreak.
Instead, provinces and the industry are sharing information and developing plans with the help of the board.
Harding said the board is working with the federal government to improve inspections of hog transport trucks at the border to ensure they are effectively cleaned and disinfected.
The board also is urging farmers and meat plants to follow biohazard security procedures.
These include ensuring that incoming animals are from healthy herds, and knowing the quality and source of feed.
Producers are to report any signs of disease to their vets.
A PED alert posted on the board’s website said an action plan is needed to deal with a potential outbreak.

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