ALBERTA, Canada – According to a Jan. 8 disease notification from Alberta Pork, a case of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) was confirmed in the province at a 400-head hog farm. Officials with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Pork are investigating the cause of the outbreak and working to prevent the spread of the contagious disease, but according to reports, no quarantine boundaries have been established. While the disease can cause 100 percent mortality among young pigs, it is not considered a threat to human health or food safety.
There are 735 hog farms registered in the province, according to Alberta Pork, and the emphasis of animal health officials in this or any PEDv outbreak is adherence to strict biosecurity practices to prevent the spread to other farms.
While the discovery at the unidentified farm is the first in Alberta, cases of the disease in Canada were first confirmed in 2014 at a farm in Ontario and subsequently in other provinces, including Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. PEDv cases discovered in the US in 2013 and 2014 had devastating results, including the cull of millions of animals and elevated pricing of products.
According to a report from the Edmonton Sun, Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork, the threat of PEDv entering the province has been heightened since the 2014 outbreaks.
“I think everybody always had the fear that it would show up everywhere. Once you have it, it’s really hard to contain,” he said. “It’s super unfortunate for the pigs, that’s our biggest concern. Once you have it, it’s pretty much the end of any baby pigs that are on the farm. The survival rate is quite low.”
Fitzgerald said he doesn’t anticipate the outbreak affecting Canada’s exports, but realizes the devastating impact it has on farmers.
“The biggest test now is to keep it contained,” he said. “And we should be able to.”