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Last week Ontario Pork reported a new case of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea in a farrow-to-finish pork barn in the county

By Jonathan Juha, Postmedia News

WOODSTOCK - 

A new case of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) has been reported on a farrow-to-finish pork farm in Oxford County.

The incident, which was confirmed by Ontario Pork Wednesday, July 8, is the fourth case of the disease in the county this year. Three other cases were confirmed in January and February.

The location of the infected farm hasn’t been released.

PED is a viral and highly contagious disease in pigs that produces vomiting and diarrhea in the infected animal, and which can be deadly, especially for younger and newborn pigs in herds that haven’t been previously exposed to the virus.

While the disease does not represent a threat to humans or other animals, it can have devastating effects on the production at the contaminated farm.

“The impact can be very severe, certainly at the the onset of the outbreak,” said John de Bruyn, local director for Ontario Pork in Oxford County. “The losses of young pigs born is usually 100 per cent, and that generally lasts for three to four weeks.

“As an industry, we are disappointed that (the virus) is still here. We were certainly hoping to eradicate it by now, but we have found that this is definitely a more stubborn virus than we wished it was,” he added.

De Bruyn said it is difficult to determine with any level of certainty the specific cause of this, or any, PED incident, since there are many sources that can produce an outbreak. He mentioned, however, that, generally, the main cause is contaminated material entering the barn and being consumed by an animal, or new pigs brought in or being picked up in contaminated trucks.

“Once the virus enters the barns, it replicates very quickly,” he said. “When an animal is infected, its intestines are infected and they are excreting the virus and then it’s very easy for other picks to pick it up. Once one gets it, it gets to the whole barn, generally.”

De Bruyn said Ontario Pork has notified local producers about this case so each barn can take preventive measures to avoid spreading the disease. He also mentioned the chances of seeing a widespread outbreak like the one last year, when 69 cases were reported in the province and 10 in Oxford County, are somewhat low, since it’s summer time and the virus tends to live longer during the colder months.

Yet he said it’s important for producers to follow all biosecurity procedures, and be very careful of potential sources of infection.

“Cleaning is key… everybody has a different system to it, but being careful, and updating your biosecurity measures is important,” he said. “Most pig farmers now just don’t allow people to come into their operations without either changing their clothes, or having a shower before entering the barn. There’s a lot of preventive measures for keeping the disease out (of the barn), but once it has gotten in, you have to work inside the barn to keep things as clean as possible.”

The first confirmed case of PED in the province was in January of last year, and there has been at least one reported case of the disease each month this year.