Call-in town hall urges biosecurity in face of PEDv outbreak

The June 2 forum gave producers and industry representatives an update on PEDv 


More cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) have been confirmed in Manitoba, despite increasingly strenuous calls for producers to ramp up biosecurity.

Thirteen cases of PEDv were confirmed from April 29 to June 7. The most recent cases bring Manitoba’s PEDv record to 23.

“It’s all very well having a document or a set of directions from your veterinarian, but you’ve got to carry them out,” Andrew Dickson, Manitoba Pork Council general manager, said. “I think it’s incumbent on the owners and managers to talk over with their staff and actually observe what happens on a daily basis and try and determine whether there might be deficiencies and what needs to be changed in order to ensure that this terrible disease doesn’t get into their farms, because once you’ve got it, it’s quite expensive to get it cleaned up.”

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The continuing outbreak prompted a call-in town hall June 2. The event was organized by Alberta Pork, seeking to inform producers there of the problem, and open to farmers in both jurisdictions.

Cases are contained to southeast Manitoba, but have spread past the initial cluster of infected farms. Six barns within five kilometres of each other have been infected in the same area that saw a spring 2016 outbreak of the disease, Dr. Glen Duizer of Manitoba’s Chief Veterinarian Office told listeners. Another 33 unaffected farms lie in the same area.

The virus was later found in a second cluster about 20 kilometres away. Three farms have been infected, all within the five-kilometre buffer. The area, likewise, has ties to previous PEDv cases in fall 2014 and fall 2016, Duizer said.

A 10th case has been confirmed outside the clusters, but was linked by animal movements to another confirmed infection.

Two additional cases were confirmed June 6 within the buffer zone of a previous infection, while a second outlier was reported in a nursery operation June 7.

All farms are at various stages of cleanup and animals will be shipped to the United States, if possible, to avoid future contamination of Manitoba facilities.

The Chief Veterinarian Office is investigating overlap between barn staff, transportation, cross-contamination in loading areas and external service providers to track the disease. Feed, feed movements and deadstock are not considered vectors at this time, although followup is expected.

Shipments between Canada and the United States, where the virus is more prevalent, have been investigated over the last two years and are considered a risk factor, but not the sole factor, in PEDv’s spread, Duizer said.

He noted that PEDv brought in via shipments from the United States is more likely to infect yards than find its way inside barns, putting more importance on biosecurity.

Biosecurity over convenience

The Manitoba Pork Council has noted biosecurity gaps in several operations, listeners heard June 2.

“Everyone has a different scenario and different situation and we’re not being critical or anything, it’s just we’re not sure if, whether they changed their practice, would that have prevented the disease coming in? We’re not sure,” Dickson said.

Mark Fynn, Manitoba Pork Council manager of quality assurance and animal care programs, used the example of a Danish entry, a multi-stage procedure for changing clothes securely.

“People aren’t following it every time and that comes back to auditing of personnel at site,” he said. “Let’s make sure that we’re doing it every time and not just for the main entrance, for every entrance to the barn.”

The council’s suggestions include off-site parking, thorough trailer cleaning, limited traffic on and off farms, designated barn clothing and limed driveways.

“No one’s ever said that biosecurity is convenient,” Fynn said. “I’ve even heard that it’s not biosecurity unless it’s inconvenient, but these are important things because what’s more inconvenient is having a bunch of your pigs break with diarrhea and having to clean up a site and having to deal with all of the repercussions of that, let alone if it’s a sow barn that breaks and all the additional cost and loss of production that goes along with that.”

PEDv causes high mortality in suckling pigs, while older animals often recover.

Loading areas are a significant risk, Fynn said. Disease may enter on washing equipment itself and equipment should be cleaned or designated for loading area use only.

Fynn noted, however, that barn staff generally avoid entering a trailer while transport staff do not enter the barns to limit contamination.

Cleaning trailers will be essential to preventing the virus, Fynn said. He suggested cleaning trailers between every load or, at minimum, between farms.

More control over farm entry is also necessary, he said. Deadstock and garbage pickup should be kept separate from parking areas and equipment transporting garbage or deadstock to the pickup should not come into contact with external service providers.

Likewise, listeners heard, biosecurity between barns on the same site may be as critical as biosecurity between farms.

“There are different ways of trying to cope with this, but it’s really important that you be very careful going from one barn to the next barn to the next barn so you don’t spread the disease,” Dickson said. “You have to assume that the disease is in the actual environment that you’re walking across when you walk across the yard.”

Dickson noted that biosecurity has improved in the last 10 years, but largely evolved to manage other diseases.

“How we deal with PEDv is somewhat changing how we look at handling diseases and it’ll be a good lesson because if we can control for PEDv, we’re going to be able to control for a host of other diseases as well,” he said.

Audio of the June 2 town hall will be available on the Manitoba Pork Council PEDv website.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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