‘Weak positive’ PED turns up in Alberta sample

A “weak positive” finding of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus from ongoing sampling in Alberta offers a warning that the hog disease may not have yet left the province alone.

The chief provincial veterinarian’s office (OCPV) on Monday reported that the agriculture department’s lab in Edmonton on Jan. 22 found a weak PED positive in a sample taken via the provincial environmental surveillance program.

That said, no new cases of PED have been found in hogs on Alberta farms to go with that environmental positive, the provincial government noted in a separate notice.

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The province has “promptly implemented the Alberta response plan to investigate potential sources of this weak positive result” and “actions have been taken at the sampling site to mitigate any further risks of potential exposure,” the OCPV said in a statement for hog producers.

“This finding demonstrates the value of the surveillance program in providing early detections of the virus and reinforcing the risk that remains out there,” the OCPV said.

It also “serves as a reminder that at any time, a site that receives pigs faces continuing threat to be contaminated and test positive, which reinforces the importance of biosecurity at the farm level being maintained as the last line of defense for your herds.”

Alberta was relatively untouched by PED up until 2019, when four cases were confirmed in hogs on Alberta farms between January and March, but no further such cases have since appeared.

Producers and “industry partners directly affected by this discovery” have been notified, Alberta Pork said in a separate statement Monday, noting “all relevant parties are co-operating.”

Alberta Pork, in the same statement, again urged producers to “always practice proper biosecurity on-farm and during animal transportation” and to “properly” wash transport trailers and equipment.

All swine manifests, including farm-to-farm movements, should be submitted to Alberta Pork “in a timely manner,” the hog producer agency said, as biosecurity and traceability are “important parts of effective disease prevention.”

The PED virus (PEDv) does not affect people and is not a food safety risk. It causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs and can lead to high mortality rates in herds of very young pigs not previously exposed.

PEDv spreads usually by direct contact between infected and non-infected hogs but can also be tracked in on clothing, boots, vehicles, equipment or other items that contacted feces from infected animals.

PED is not a federally regulated disease, but is provincially regulated in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario. The virus’ first confirmed appearance in Canada was on an Ontario farm in 2014 and on-farm cases since then have mainly been in Ontario and Manitoba.

The most recent of Ontario’s on-farm cases appeared last month and earlier this month in Oxford and Perth counties respectively. Manitoba confirmed its most recent case in a nursery barn in its southeast region in November. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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