Upping biosecurity will pay dividends for years

The hog industry’s response to PEDv was a huge win for animal health, says a veterinarian who was on the front line of the effort in Alberta.

“The pork industry already had the highest biosecurity standards out there, but with this disease, we’ve really put a lot of emphasis on it, and people have responded so favourably,” said Dr. Egan Brockhoff of Prairie Swine Health Services.

“With all of the work we’ve done to enhance biosecurity, educate about biosecurity, and audit biosecurity processes, there’s no question that that is going to be the new normal.”

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The huge investment of time and money to upgrade biosecurity measures will pay dividends for years to come by preventing the spread of the porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viruses, and other diseases that will show up in the future, said Brockhoff.

And PEDv taught everyone in the industry that they can’t relax even for a moment — something reinforced in October when the virus was found at a provincial pig-handling facility.

“This tells me that the virus is coming to the border and coming to the province,” he said. “It hasn’t gotten into a pig yet, but it’s banging on the door.”

PEDv also demonstrated the benefits of industry co-operation. While reinfection has been common south of the border, the virus was eradicated in many of the 70 infected herds in Ontario.

That’s given the industry a new confidence in its abilities, and a challenge for the years ahead.

“Biosecurity isn’t just something that happens once — it’s something that happens every day,” said Brockhoff. “Maintaining that constant vigilance is a little bit exhausting, but you need to find new ways every day to stay motivated and keep focused and keep the disease from coming onto farms.”

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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