July 21, 2017 2:43 pm
Updated: July 24, 2017 8:12 am

Saskatchewan pork producers fearful of devastating PED virus in Manitoba

WATCH ABOVE: Porcine epidemic diarrhea causes severe dehydration, is easily transmittable and is generally fatal in young pigs.

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A rash of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) outbreaks on Manitoba pig farms has Saskatchewan pork producers concerned about their proximity to the deadly disease.

The PED virus causes diarrhea in pigs, leading to dehydration and typically death in piglets.

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“This is far and away the worst outbreak we’ve had in Canada,” said Florian Possberg, a Humboldt-area producer and chairman of the SaskPork board.

As of Monday, 69 premises in Manitoba have been infected, of which nine are now considered PED presumptive negative, according to the Manitoba government. Eleven of the cases were confirmed this month.

The disease is believed to be spread by contaminated trucks carrying infected animals.

Saskatchewan is believed to be free of the virus, in part because of strict biosecurity measures restricting outside access to pig barns.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) developed a PED vaccine in 2016.

The vaccine has been licensed to a commercial partner, which is manufacturing it and seeking regulatory approval for use in the United States and Canada.

Twenty thousand doses have been shipped to infected barns in Manitoba with permission from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

“Having a vaccine is just another tool that you can use then, so with your biosecurity and a vaccine, you have better chances to control this disease,” said VIDO-Intervac associate director for research Dr. Volker Gerdts.

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The disease is endemic in the United States with about 200 to 300 cases per week between 2013 and 2014, according to the Canadian Pork Council (CPC).

Ontario reported more than 100 cases following the initial positive test result in January 2014. Manitoba’s first case emerged in February 2014.

CPC chair Rick Bergmann met earlier this week with federal and provincial agriculture ministers and the head of the CFIA.

Bergmann says the group is working on a plan to “help mitigate the risk of acquiring this disease any further.”

Other animals cannot contract PED and there is no risk to food safety.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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