The accepted wisdom about the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv), and its ability to survive in hog blood products used in piglet feed, is being tested this week in Winnipeg.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced Tuesday it is running tests to see if feed pellets made using hog plasma from a U.S. supplier have been a “contributing factor” in the virus’ arrival and spread in Canadian hog barns.
Testing has confirmed PEDv in samples of “U.S.-origin” plasma from a third-party manufacturer which has supplied feed ingredients to Ontario feed processing firm Grand Valley Fortifiers (GVF), CFIA said.
Testing with a swine bioassay confirmed the plasma ingredient contains PEDv “capable of causing disease in pigs,” CFIA said.
However, the agency said, further tests must now be done to see if piglets can still catch the virus from Grand Valley’s processed feed pellets, containing the U.S. hog plasma.
Grand Valley on Feb. 9 issued a voluntary recall for certain pelleted swine nursery feed products containing hog plasma, CFIA said, noting it’s now working with the company to confirm the effectiveness of the recall. [Related story]
CFIA said it’s now also “closely examining” Grand Valley’s records to see where potentially affected product was distributed, and also looking at records of other imports of swine plasma into Canada.
The agency also warned that as its investigation continues, “additional actions such as recalls may be necessary” to dial down hog feed’s potential as an infective agent for PEDv in Canada.
Experts “continue to assure us (PEDv) cannot survive the blood plasma manufacturing process,” Grand Valley said in a separate release Tuesday, but added that “based on epidemiology, the PED virus may have somehow managed to get through the system.”
Thus, the company said, “the only sure path moving forward for Grand Valley Fortifiers and the industry is to cease using porcine-origin ingredients, including blood meal, blood plasma, pork meal and animal/vegetable oil blends in swine feeds.”
Farrowing operations, GVF said, should instead rely on “alternatives” such as Natures Blend pelleted nursery feed and other nursery feeds on the market that have no hog-based ingredients and “have proven safe throughout this unfortunate ordeal.”
PEDv, which has previously circulated only in Europe and Asia, appeared in North America for the first time last April on hog farms in the U.S., before arriving in Ontario last month.
Since then, the virus has spread to about 3,000 hog farms across 23 U.S. states, with mortalities estimated between one million and four million hogs.
The virus causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration in affected pigs and is fatal in up to 100 per cent of very young affected piglets, while older hogs tend to recover. The virus is not considered a risk to human health, nor to the safety of pork.
“Extensive surveillance” began in Canada at “industry-connected” operations such as feed mills after Canada’s first case of PEDv was confirmed in southwestern Ontario on Jan. 23, GVF said.
The company said it first suspected a possible link between the spread of the virus and GVF customers on Jan. 31, and “welcomed” Ontario ag ministry staff to swab the company’s delivery vehicles.
All 55 swabs tested negative for PEDv, GVF said Tuesday, “confirming that our delivery truck biosecurity protocols were sound.” GVF noted its own feed premix manufacturing plants have been free of porcine-origin ingredients for over five years.
However, GVF said, as of Feb. 9, it will “no longer formulate, have manufactured, or sell pelleted nursery feed that contains porcine-origin ingredients. We hope that the entire industry will learn from our situation and join us in this effort.”
Manitoba-based Landmark Feeds, for one, announced last week it will only use Canadian-manufactured sources of spray-dried plasma in its piglet feed processing until the question of feed infectiveness is “clarified.” [Related story]
GVF said its staff’s “hearts and prayers go out to the farms that have tested positive and all those who are experiencing the extremely negative impact of this virus on our industry,” and pledged to “continue to do everything in our power to contain the further spread of the virus.”
As of Tuesday, PEDv has been confirmed on 22 hog farms in Canada: 20 in Ontario, one in southeastern Manitoba and one in Prince Edward Island.
Four cases were confirmed Tuesday alone in southwestern Ontario: three on farrow-to-finish operations in Oxford County and one on a farrow-to-wean operation in Perth County. — AGCanada.com Network