Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PED team

I am impressed by the proactive approaches the Ontario hog industry is taking to keep Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea out of the province.

It's now clear that the U.S. has lost any chance of stopping the spread of this deadly disease among hog farms there - 1,151 in 19 states now and spreading at the rate of 85 to 90 more per week.

So far there have been no known cases in Canada.

Dr. Doug McDougald of the Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board and its sister organization, the Ontario Pork Council, has done an excellent job of tracking down all 22 truckers whose rigs haul hogs into the U.S., and making sure they all know how vital it is that their drivers take precautions to keep from brining the virus back.

His team has learned that none of the 15 U.S. packing plants buying Ontario hogs has stepped up biosecurity, so they are likely to be spreading the virus to Canadian truckers and rigs.

What's more, the manure scrape-out centres and U.S. wash bays are more likely to spread PED than to stop it from spreading. Many re-use water which is obviously contaminated.

That has prompted the Ontario team to urge truckers to do their washing and disinfecting at Canadian facilities.

And hog farmers are asked to ensure that no truck comes on their premises unless and until it has been thoroughly cleaned, washed, disinfected and dried. They ought to also clean, wash and disinfect their own farm trucks.

The Ontario team has also set up the protocols for how it will respond if and when PED does show up here. That includes communications among those who will need to know and actions, such as immediate lock-downs to keep the virus from spreading.

The team-work has been impressive. The Ontario Pork marketing board, truckers, packers, swine veterinarians, hog farmers, assembly yards, the federal and provincial governments, the diagnostic lab at Guelph are all involved and co-operating.

Ontario is far ahead of other provinces.

And, heck, even the Canadian Food Inspection Agency hasn't got its act together because border vigilance and enforcement of standards for returning hog-industry trucks and truckers is not consistent across Canada, according to Dr. McDougald.

I guess Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is too busy glad-handing and issuing news releases patting the Harper government on the back to actually check whether his departmental staff are on top of this situation.