It’s now official — Manitoba has its first case of a highly contagious and deadly pig virus that has already wiped out millions of piglets in the United States.
Manitoba’s acting chief veterinary officer, Dr. Glen Duizer, told an afternoon news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg confirmed today the virus found earlier this week on a hog farm in southeastern Manitoba was indeed the dreaded porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.
The virus originated in Europe and first surfaced in the United States in April of last year. Manitoba Pork Council general manager Andrew Dickson told reporters it has since killed an estimated four million baby pigs in the United States, affecting up to one quarter of that country’s hog farms.
While he and Duizer emphasized the virus poses no risk to human health or food safety, Dickson said Manitoba’s pork industry could be looking at losses of between $150 million to $170 million if a full-blown outbreak develops.
"But that’s the worse case scenario," he said, adding industry and government officials remain hopeful that response measures now underway can prevent the disease from spreading to other farms.
"Our hope is that it can be contained."
They said newborns and baby piglets are particularly vulnerable to the virus, with mortality rates in the 80 to 100 per cent range. Older pigs often have less serious symptoms and generally recover.
Duizer said Manitoba is the third province to confirm a case of PED. The first Canadian case was found late last month in Ontario, and has since spread to a dozen other farms in that province. Prince Edward Island has also reported one confirmed case.