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PEDv crosses into south-central Manitoba

A finisher barn in the Altona/Gretna region was confirmed PEDv positive July 14

Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDv) has been confirmed west of the Red River for the first time after a farm in the Altona/Gretna region tested positive for the virus July 14.

Dr. Glen Duizer of Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office (CVO) said the barn was exposed after a shipment of pigs from a farm that was later confirmed PEDv positive. The shipped animals later tested positive for the virus.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Manitoba Pork general manager Andrew Dickson said. “This happens. You can test and test.”

Remedial measures are underway; operations within five kilometres have been notified and the site has been locked down, Dickson said.

The western case adds a ninth disease risk zone to the map. Five-kilometre buffer zones around infected farms have also clustered in the Steinbach area, near Niverville, St. Pierre-Jolys, and near the U.S.-Canada border south of Steinbach.

As of July 19, a total of 59 PEDv cases have been reported in Manitoba this year. An estimated 940,000 animals are under surveillance in disease risk areas, including 67,000 sows from 22 confirmed infected farms. Another 13 nurseries and 24 finisher operations are also fighting the virus.

Cases jumped dramatically in mid-June, with 16 new cases identified in the ninth week of the outbreak.

Biosecurity

Cleanup is underway on infected farms and tightened biosecurity is in place.

If a site cannot bury deadstock on its premise because of soil types or so on, then the vast majority, if not all of them, are moving their deadstock to a landfill that has actually specified risk material management in place, so they can handle it that way,” Duizer said during a July 19 phone-in town hall. “We’re trying to make sure we protect different segments of the industry, including rendering and other associated activities around that.”

The CVO warns that more finisher spaces will be needed as infected facilities are emptied for cleaning. Finisher pigs will ideally be kept in southeast Manitoba, Duizer said, although some animals may have to go to uninfected sites. Cull sows are being directly shipped to packing plants in the United States to avoid contaminating facilities in Manitoba.

“As much as possible, we’re trying to move animals and material from infected sites following a one-kilometre buffer barrier to avoid coming in close contact with other swine premises and, as much as possible, managing the areas where transport trucks come in close contact with each other,” Duizer said.

The CVO has stressed not moving pigs until they are no longer shedding virus, although Duizer said they will still be transported as if infectious as a precaution.

Operations that find themselves within a risk zone should tighten biosecurity beyond normal “peacetime” measures, Duizer said.

Segregated transport, equipment and slaughter times for infected and healthy animals, along with added followup testing and increased focus on cleaning and disinfection, are among those suggested measures.

Wind is a potential vector in several PEDv infections this year, Duizer said, making open loading doors and other entrances a potential entry for the virus on windy days.

Change tactics

Shared staff and equipment between facilities has also been a problem. Duzier said while that makes sense in normal conditions, hog barn operators may have to change tactics to manage this disease.

“It doesn’t make sense in an outbreak and the ability to implement those controls, even to the extent of, in some cases, having to rent a trailer to have as an additional shower site to handle some of the staff movements and so on, those might be things that producers need to consider and have in their contingency plans.”

Likewise, the CVO says traffic should be limited between facilities outside the buffer zone and any barn within it. Frequent animal movement between barns may also need to be curbed.

“We recognize that when you’re looking at multi-site production and linked-in, connected, flows of pigs, that in normal circumstances this would be what is a normal business practice,” Duizer said. “It fits well within the day-to-day routines of barn staff and management to include a movement on a daily basis, on a frequent basis.

“It also, on an infrastructure side, is easier for a site to have a smaller transport vehicle dedicated to that site and to do those more frequent movements. However, in an outbreak, if you want to spread a disease rapidly, that’s how you do it… Even with a fast-moving disease like PEDv, by the time that we are able to identify it even in the highest-risk herds, like a sow herd, there are multiple movements that have happened.”

Despite continued concern over the disease’s spread, the CVO offered some hope that the outbreak may have peaked, with no new cases reported at the time of printing since July 14.

Dickson pointed to Ontario, which had 69 cases of PEDv in 2014 and has since cut those numbers to five cases reported this year.

“I’m confident that we’re going to resolve this,” Dickson said. “We will get on top of this disease because we’ve got good managers in place, a good, modern, production system. We’re learning lots of lessons on this and we’re adapting our management approach to this disease.”

About the author

Reporter

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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