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No signs pig virus has spread

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Tests at more than 44 sites in Manitoba have failed to turn up any further signs of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, which was found on a southeastern Manitoba farm in the second week of February.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Tests at more than 44 sites in Manitoba have failed to turn up any further signs of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, which was found on a southeastern Manitoba farm in the second week of February. Photo Store

It appears Manitoba's hog industry has won the first round in its battle against a highly contagious and deadly pig virus that has killed millions of baby pigs in the United States.

The Office of the Chief Veterinary Office (CVO) said Monday tests at more than 44 sites in the province have failed to turn up any signs of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus having spread beyond the one southeastern Manitoba farm where it was found during the second week of February.

"I think that is a pretty good way of putting it," Manitoba Pork Council spokesman Michael Teillet said when asked if the industry has won the first round. "At this point it would appear pretty positive. It looks like nothing is breaking anywhere else in province, and that's nothing but good news."

The virus, which originated in China and surfaced in the United States in May of last year, is unique to pigs and officials say it poses no threat to humans.

Teillet, who is manager of sustainable development for the MPC, said even the farm that was infected lost only a couple of pigs because its herd is older animals, and they can usually survive the virus. The producer's remaining pigs also are no longer showing any clinical signs of having the illness, he added, although follow-up tests will still be done in a few weeks to make sure.

He noted that after the first Canadian case surfaced in Ontario in January, it seemed as if every day there was another new case being reported in that province.

"So we felt that if we could get through the first couple of weeks with nothing new being reported here, we would, at least at this point, be out of the woods," he said.

"Nothing says there couldn't be a truck driving up to the (Manitoba-U.S.) border right now that has the virus on it," he added. "There is all kinds of it in Minnesota and Iowa, and we have trucks going back and forth every day (between there and Manitoba)."

But there are strict bio-security measures in place at the border that require all returning trucks to be washed and disinfected at a certified truck-washing centre before going anywhere near a farm, he said. And most hog producers also have their own bio-security measures in place to try and prevent diseases from entering their barns.

Although the investigation continues into how the virus got onto the one farm, industry officials think it most likely entered Manitoba on a truck that had returned from the United States and wasn't thoroughly cleaned, Teillet said. And that truck brought it onto the farm.

That's why after the virus was found, the Office of the CVO began testing every truck that had visited the farm in the two weeks prior to the discovery, as well as any farms or sites -- loading docks, abattoirs etc. -- the trucks visited after leaving the infected farm.

Although the Office of the CVO is still waiting for the results from one final site, an official said last week they're also expected to come back negative.

Teillet said the producer whose farm was infected has been extremely co-operative throughout the investigation.

"He's done everything we and the Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer have asked."

The Office of the CVO said there are now 27 confirmed PED cases in Canada, 24 of which are in Ontario. Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island have one each.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2014 B6

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