Dr. Doug McDougald, a leading Ontario swine veterinarian, says he’s confident the province’s hog farmers can eradicate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, even though it’s probably now on more than 100 farms.
McDougald bases his optimism on the experience of Sunterra Farms, a Canadian company finishing approximately 350,000 pigs in the United States mid-west with most of the nursery and finisher sites in pig-dense Northwest Iowa where the virus is prevalent.
Sunterra has been challenged with PED since May, 2013, and has “to date been quite successful in biosecurity measures to keep it out of the barns,” says McDougald.
Sunterra is based in Alberta, but for a time owned a hog-slaughtering plant in Mitchell that is now part of the bankruptcy of Quality Meat Packers and Great Lakes Specialty Meats.
McDougald says “they have had nursery and finishing barns go positive but with diligent barn clean up,” newly-placed PED-negative pigs rarely become infected from the barn.
“This reinforces that a thorough barn clean up works,” he says.
Ten of Sunterra’s 53 nursery sites have been infected with PED virus and nine have been successfully cleaned up. There has been one failure.
Twelve of the company’s 122 finisher sites have been infected and another 13 contaminated due to positive nursery pigs placed there. The virus has been eliminated from them with only one site cleanup failure.
McDougald concludes that “effective biosecurity can prevent PED virus infection even with high disease pressure. Be vigilant!,” he advises farmers.
And, he says “PED virus elimination at nursery and finisher sites is do-able.
“In Ontario we should be highly successful in having a high number of successful PED-virus eliminations at these positive sites by this fall.”
The provincial and federal governments are contributing funding to help in preventing the further spread of PED and in cleaning up infected barns.
The industry is building on a program introduced to eliminate Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Sydrome (PRRS) virus from the province.
That program, called ARC&E (for Area Regional Control and Eradication), has been launched in a number of parts of the province where hog farmers have indicated their willingness to co-operate by sharing information and adopting eradication protocols.
Strict biosecurity measures are required for the eradication of either PRRS or PED virus.