Deadly pig virus nearly contained in Ontario
Scott Miller, CTV London
Published Tuesday, December 16, 2014 3:58PM EST
When a fatal disease that targets pigs arrived in Ontario in January farmers feared the worst. But almost one year after its arrival, porcine epidemic diarrhea or PED is all but under control.
The news comes despite the fact that PED killed millions of pigs and infected thousands of farms in the U.S.
Amy Cronin, chair of Ontario Pork, says they didn't know what to expect because of the constant rise in the number of infections south of the border.
But after a quick jump, the piglet-killing virus, which is transmitted from farm to farm by manure, is all but contained in Ontario.
Veterinarian Mike De Groot says there are now 67 positive cases of PED in Ontario, but "It's been pretty good containment by the industry to date. We've only had two cases in November, two in December and before that we hadn't had any since the early summer."
Three of the most recent cases were in Oxford, Perth and Middlesex County, but half of the barns that had PED in them are now PED-free, a huge success according to pork producers.
The achievement has come from vigilance and cleanliness - washing every boot or truck tire that comes near the pigs.
But PED thrives in the cold, so producers know they aren't out of the woods yet with the worst of winter yet to come.
Cronin says, "PED is a really tricky virus...So we've just really got to watch what we're doing on farm and assume that everything comes on farm is PED positive and make sure that virus then can't enter the barn."
De Groot hopes that as 2015 starts and winter ends they are only looking at a small number of new cases to deal with.
The virus kills pigs before they can grow to market weight so PED cannot and has not entered the food chain. It also affects only pigs and cannot be spread to humans.