In the event of an outbreak of African swine fever in Canada or the U.S., pork products from disease-free areas will still be allowed to flow across the border.
An agreement reached between the two countries is intended to limit the economic impact of a possible outbreak of ASF, an illness that has led to the deaths of a million pigs in China but has not been detected in Canada or the U.S.
Under the deal announced Wednesday, both countries will continue trade in various pork products — including meat, live animals and byproducts — within geographic zones that are free of the disease should an outbreak occur.
“Zoning is an internationally-recognized tool used to help manage diseases and facilitate international trade,” Canada’s chief veterinary officer Dr. Jaspinder Komal said in a statement along with his U.S. counterpart on Wednesday.
“If a case of ASF is identified, geographic boundaries are defined to contain the outbreak.”
The statement described the illness as a “global threat” that “cannot be addressed in isolation.”
African swine fever doesn’t harm humans but is fatal and spreads quickly among pigs. There is no treatment or vaccine, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The CFIA website says that the illness has never been found in Canada “and we intend to keep it that way.”
It was first reported in August in China’s northeast. Since then, the disease has spread to 31 of China’s 34 provinces, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Outbreaks have been reported in Cambodia, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam. A small number of wild boars in Russia and seven European countries have also been found to have the disease.
The CFIA says that Canada’s pork industry generates nearly $24 billion annually and employs more than 100,000 people. Canada is the third-largest pork exporter in the world.
— With files from the Associated Press