Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trucks fingered as PED vectors

Trucks appear to be the biggest risk for spreading Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, say the Ontario Pork Industry Council and the Ontario Swine Health Advisory Board.

They note that up to 65 hog-hauling trucks return from the United States every week.

Manure, contaminated footwear and clothing and loading chutes are all potential carriers of the virus into Ontario barns.

There have been nine outbreaks so far this year, bringing the total since the first case in January, 2014, to 94 farms.

The virus is deadly for newborn piglets, often killing all of them; those who are luckier lose only 70 per cent.

The Ontario Swine Herd Advisory Board is promoting a highly-successful protocol for bringing an outbreak under control and developing immunity, then freedom from the virus. A majority of the Ontario farms that have had an outbreak have been able to achieve PED-free status.

The Ontario Pork Council has been gathering swabs from assembly yards and delivery docks at packing plants and is providing a weekly report on how many are infected with PED and the percentage of samples infected with the virus.

It’s a clear indication that trucking remains a high-risk potential for spreading the virus. It is more likely to survive during cold weather.
Recommendations arising from the audits at assembly yards and packing plants include: 

-       using separate lanes for trucks returning from the U.S. to Ontario assembly yards; 

-       designating certain chutes for loading trucks that are going to, or have been in, the United States;

-       controlling hog movements to one direction, keeping them from coming back into barns. This includes one-direction flow for three-site setups for the breeding and farrowing sows, nurseries and finishing barns;

-       establishing a U.S. transporter entrance; 

-       improving manure management, and

-       controlling foot traffic to prevent cross contamination.

Maybe the council could publish the names of the trucker if and when it identifies one that has carried PED to a farm.

Also, maybe it could gather swabs for PED testing from the loading chutes of trucks. Hog farmers could help in this regard by requiring swabs to be collected from trucks before they begin loading hogs at their farm. If subsequent testing turns up PED virus, they would have grounds for suing the trucker for introducing the virus to their herd.

A successful lawsuit might serve to frighten truckers into more careful biosecurity. As things stand now, they lose nothing, but a hog farm can be devastated by an outbreak of PED.