To prevent the introduction of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus into Canada, the Canadian Swine Health Board (CSHB) is formulating a national prevention strategy. 

PED virus is an aggressive strain causing widespread watery diarrhea in all ages, leading to up to 100% mortality in nursing pigs. Other ages of pigs are affected as well, although not as severely as nursing pigs. Investigative teams in the United States are working to establish the source of the outbreak, and it is hoped that detailed questionnaires from U.S. veterinarians contained in an epidemiological survey provide answers as well.

This is the first time this disease has been seen in North America, and therefore the Canadian herd has no immunity against this virus. As a result, the Canadian industry would suffer disastrous economic losses should this disease spread to Canada.

The CSHB’s Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network (CSHIN) provides Canada a unique opportunity to monitor the health of pigs across the country. Fortunately, CSHIN data continues to indicate that the Canadian herd remains free of any signs of PED virus.

“Protecting the Canadian herd from this disease threat is critical to the success of our industry,” says Florian Possberg, CSHB Chair. “We all have a role to play, and the overwhelming response from the Canadian industry demonstrates the interest in doing whatever can be done.”

The CSHB was established to take a leadership role in addressing swine health risks for Canada. As such, CSHB notified the industry immediately of the PED threat, and has taken a collaborative approach in bringing together industry partners to develop a national strategy to address the PED threat. Much has already been done, and further steps have been identified to help ensure Canada remains PED-free.

Components of the national PED strategy include:

Heightened biosecurity: Good biosecurity is the key to stopping the spread of this disease, including ensuring that incoming animals are from healthy herds, all trucks and equipment are free of contamination, and knowing the quality and source of all incoming feed ingredients. Several technical bulletins and updates provide key information and are available at www.swinehealth.ca.

Effective surveillance: Besides the important monitoring of herds through CSHIN, effective surveillance means producers report any unusual signs of disease to their veterinarian, and also ensuring their veterinarian is participating in CSHIN. Producers and veterinarians can find out more about CSHIN by contacting Chris Byra, CSHIN manager, at cbyra@shaw.ca.

Keeping up to date: The CSHB provides a free daily electronic update on swine health news. Especially now, all industry stakeholders should be receiving this to ensure they have the latest news on PED virus. Subscribe to CSHB News Updates at info@swinehealth.ca.

Risk analysis: While fundamental initiatives to address this threat are already in progress, a national risk analysis will provide key details on further protecting the Canadian herd. Some risk assessments for PED virus  are already underway, and consistently addressing these factors on a national basis is critical. Issues to be considered include diagnostic testing and capacity and financial impacts for producers and the rest of the value chain.

Control: An intervention strategy must be established so that a clear plan is in place, and can be immediately implemented, in the event of PED virus being identified in Canada. Components of this plan include containment to prevent its spread and strategies to eliminate the disease. This PED strategy will continue to be revised and enhanced as more information on the disease and its spread are learned. All Canadian swine industry stakeholders are encouraged to actively participate in this collaborative national strategy.

The CSHB was formed to proactively address swine health challenges through leadership, coordination and support in the management of the health of the Canadian swine herd. Its members include the Canadian Association of Swine Veterinarians, the Canadian Association of Veterinary Colleges, the Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement, the Canadian Meat Council and the Canadian Pork Council.