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Manitoba confirms fourth PED case of year

Another finisher barn in southeastern Manitoba has tested positive for porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in the province’s fourth on-farm case of the disease this year.

Manitoba Pork Council general manager Andrew Dickson said barn staff noticed symptoms Sunday. Tests were taken the following day with results confirmed Tuesday.

“That doesn’t mean every pig in the barn has got it at this moment in time, it just means some of the pigs got it, but it’s likely to spread,” he said.

The pork council is behaving under the assumption that the whole barn is infected.

“The question that then rises is it’s a feeder barn, so did the baby pigs that went into that barn, did they bring it in?” Dickson said.

Manitoba’s chief veterinary officer Dr. Megan Bergman was not available for comment, but previously told industry broadcast Farmscape that an investigation was underway into the source of the infections.

The two sow operations and another finishing barn were confirmed positive for the disease on May 2, May 4 and May 8. All four cases lie within five kilometres of each other.

The newest report brings Manitoba’s PED cases to 14 since the virus was discovered in the province in 2014.

Losses from the virus this year are not known.

“With the feeder operations, what you tend to do is you get some sick pigs and you get some that don’t make it, but a chunk of them will get through it,” Dickson said.

The larger danger, he noted, was to young animals. The virus is known to cause up to 100 per cent mortality in suckling pigs.

Monitoring

Facilities that have been in contact or lie within five km of infected farms have been asked to monitor for the disease. Testing is ongoing and the provincial Emergency Operations Centre has been active since initial reports of the outbreak. Infected farm locations have been revealed to veterinarians with clients in the five-km bubble.

Sows in infected locations are being exposed to the virus to bolster immunity in the next generation, the pork council has said. All infected locations are under biocontainment and farm traffic is being strictly controlled.

The Manitoba Pork Council has released expanded biosecurity measures in reaction to the outbreak. Farms in the warning area are encouraged to limit traffic and erect signs or barriers to enforce the rule, wear approved footwear, restrict parking to driveways and roads off site, lime driveways and avoid vehicle contact with dead animals or garbage, which should have a designated pickup zone at the end of the driveway.

“We know there’s been good uptake on the biosecurity because we’ve got relatively few incidents of this disease compared to what we have in the United States or Ontario,” Dickson said.

Ontario broke 100 PED cases this spring while over 3,000 sites in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus between June 5, 2014 and April 27, 2017, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Manitoba Pork Council has stressed caution when visiting assembly yards and processing plants, which might house the virus, or when transporting animals to or from the U.S.

“It’s really important that the trailers coming back be properly washed and disinfected in wash stations in Manitoba, even though they might have gone to a wash station in the United States,” Dickson said.

Waivers

Producers are also encouraged to sign information-sharing waivers allowing veterinarians to share medical information with each other.

“It’s important that all the veterinarians in the province know what this disease is because you get a barn in southeast Manitoba supplying baby pigs to a barn in western Manitoba. The vets need to know what’s going on,” Dickson said.

“When a person deals with the provincial government, your information is protected, so the province can’t divulge that information to a veterinarian who doesn’t have a direct business relationship with (an) operation.”

All 14 locations where PED has been confirmed in Manitoba have submitted waivers, Dickson said.

Barns now face the prospect of disinfecting facilities once symptoms have abated.

“With the feeder barns, they’re going to have to move the animals out,” Dickson said. “They’ll probably have to be moved to the United States, but they have to wait until there’s no symptoms of the disease. For the sow barns, which produce the weanlings, you can’t ship the weanlings to the United States without a health certificate and that means that the animals have to be clear of the disease for 60 days, so that’s going to hinder their plans.”

— Alexis Stockford is a reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator at Brandon, Man. Follow her at @AlexisStockford on Twitter.

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