Disease concerns keep North American pig producers on alert

12-06 | |
Disease concerns keep North American pig producers on alert
Photo: Canva

The Canada West Swine Health Intelligence Network is warning pork producers in the region to immediately report pigs that display blisters or signs of past blisters, and to request ‘rule out testing’ for foreign animal diseases such as African Swine Fever (ASF) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).

Network manager Dr Jette Christensen reports that blisters or healed lesions that could indicate previous blisters were recently detected on culled sows going to the US for slaughter, raising suspicions about FMD and Seneca Valley virus.

A year ago, blisters on culled sows going to the US for slaughter triggered investigations and prompted the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to halt the import of culled sows until foreign diseases were ruled out.


Christensen explained in local media that “last summer we actually experienced quite a disruption to the cull sow flow from swine herds in Canada to assembly yards to slaughter in the US and it took quite a bit of work from provincial governments, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, USDA and the assembly yards to…get the flow going again.”

Regarding the current situation, she notes that the reaction of the USDA will depend on how many more shipments arrive with pigs that appear to have blisters.

SDCV found

In April, Swine Delta Coronavirus, also known as Porcine deltacoronavirus or PDCoV, was confirmed in a Manitoba herd. The disease belongs to the same viral family as porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) and transmissible gastroenteritis. It shares indistinguishable symptoms with these diseases, although its symptoms tend to be less severe than PED. Manitoba Pork states that “given that the Manitoba sector is currently on high alert for PED, producers should take every precaution.”

The disease was first detected in Hong Kong in 2009 and it has since been found in several countries. The American Association of Swine Veterinarians recently released a report ‘Porcine Deltacoronavirus Occurrence in the United States Breeding Herds since its emergence in 2014.’

A research team in China announced in January 2024 the creation of a serology-based detection method for PDCoV, which “has great sensitivity and good repeatability, making it a new and cost-saving option for rapid diagnosis and immunosurveillance.”

Prevention of disease spread: feral pigs

Back in Canada in late April, the Manitoba government announced an investment of over $2.6 million CAD (US $1.9 million) during the next 4 years for wild pig control, specifically the ‘Squeal on Pigs Manitoba’ initiative. “As we all know, wild pigs are really tough to get rid of,” stated Manitoba agriculture minister Ron Kostyshyn. “They are a challenge to our landscape and for potential spread of diseases.”

The announcement was made at the first Canadian Wild Pig Summit held in Brandon, Manitoba from April 22-24.

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Treena Hein Correspondent