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PEDv Canada: Outbreaks may be related to the cold

In Canada, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea virus (PEDv) has been demanding attention these weeks as this year alone 4 operations in Alberta and 2 in Ontario have confirmed the virus on-farm. The cold winter weather in many regions of Canada this year may be a contributing factor to spread of this disease. Biosecurity has been stepped up on farms.

On March 1, 2019, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry reported that was been confirmed in Alberta. “The farm has stopped movement of all pigs, full bio-containment has been implemented and it is working closely with their veterinarian.”

The first was found on January 7, 2019. On February 21, 2019, a 2nd case was found.

In a completely different part of Canada, in Ontario, 2 finisher barns have this year been identified as having PEDv, 1 near the city of Waterloo on February 1, and 1 in Oxford County on January 25. The total number of cases in Ontario is now at 12. The locations of the outbreaks is not being released.

The cold winter of 2019 might provide ideal circumstances for PEDv to thrive. Photo: 123RF
The cold winter of 2019 might provide ideal circumstances for PEDv to thrive. Photo: 123RF

PEDv survival: better in the cold?

The extremely cold winter in Canada this year could be a factor in the survivability of the virus and its spread. A scientist named Sagar Goyal at the University of Minnesota published results of a study analysing PEDv survivability in manure and confirmed it survived longer in colder conditions.

In 2017, however, a team of American researchers found that different dilutions of peroxygen-based disinfectant ‘Virkon S’ were effective in inactivating PEDv in 2mm of swine faeces on aluminium surfaces at cold temperatures with short contact times. The researchers looked at temperatures between 39°F (about 4°C) and 14°F (-10°C) to determine if the disinfectant can control PEDv within a winter wash, disinfect and dry trailer sanitation protocol.

Record-breaking cold in Canada

A number of records have been broken in Canada in recent months, mostly for low daily temperatures but also for the length (of many days) of extreme cold ‘snaps.’ CBC reported that the situation is due to normal containment of very cold Arctic air being breached, causing extreme cold temperatures in the central and eastern part of Canada and also the northern USA. The ‘containment system’ is known as the polar vortex, a very large weather pattern that circles the North Pole.

Read more about PEDv in the Pig Progress Health Tool

In Alberta, February 2019 was the coldest in the province’s history. The Calgary Star reports that, according to Environment Canada, a stagnant jet stream pattern of cold air that “locked itself into parts of Alberta’s atmosphere can be blamed for the month of extreme dips in temperature and cold wind chills across the province.”

First detection in Canada: 2014

The 1st case of PEDv in Canada happened in January 2014, when samples of piglet colon contents from Ontario were found to be positive for PEDv.

During the ongoing surveillance activities being conducted in partnership between the Alberta government and the pork industry, PEDv was detected October 29, 2014 in Alberta in an office space at a pig-handling facility.

Quebec has had 16 outbreaks since 2014, mostly in the Monteregie region in 2015. Prince Edward Island also reported one outbreak that year.

Alberta Farm Express reported in January that in the province of Manitoba, the pork industry has implemented a voluntary PED testing programme at 20 high-traffic sites that move or handle large numbers of pigs, including livestock trailers. More than 27,000 samples were submitted for PED testing, with only 9 sites testing positive for the virus.