Canadian officials fear the possible impact of a contagious and deadly pig virus after Ontario health officials diagnosed a fourth case of the disease in the province. The disease has been spreading via pig manure from hogs in the U.S. Midwest.
Ontario's hog farmer representatives told The Canadian Press
that the virus is spread through contact with manure, which can attach itself to trucks, trailers and even clothing and boots.
The country's first case of virus was found just a week ago on a southwestern Ontario farm. Provincial health officials said since then hundreds of piglets between two to five days old have died from the disease.
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Canadian hog producers say they fear the disease could quickly wipe out herds of pigs if not swiftly contained.
Ontario Pork, which represents 1,600 producers in the province, told
that it was cooperating with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food on follow up action.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, does not affect humans, according to CTV, but kills off an important food supply.
The Canadian Swine Health Board started a strategy to stop the spread of the disease in May after it was found spreading among herds in the U.S. Midwest. The board told CTV News that the disease is actually rare in North America.
"The virus is an aggressive strain causing widespread watery diarrhea in all ages, leading to up to 100 percent mortality in nursing pigs," noted the Canadian Swine Health Board on its website
"Investigative teams in the U.S. are working to establish the source of the outbreak, and it is hoped that detailed questionnaires from veterinarians in the U.S. will provide answers as well," the CSHB website reported.
Health officials from the board said one of the problems is that since the disease is so rare in this part of the world, pigs here have not built up any immunity against this virus.
"Protecting the Canadian herd from this disease threat is critical to the success of our industry," Florian Possberg, the board's chair said in a statement. "We all have a role to play, and the overwhelming response from the Canadian industry demonstrates the interest in doing whatever can be done."
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