Deadly PED Virus Discovered in Alberta for First Time

A 400-head hog operation in Alberta, Canada, has contracted the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, a disease that causes diarrhea and vomiting in pigs, according to a notification by Alberta Pork. This is the first-ever reported case of PED in Alberta.

The virus, which can cause up to 100% mortality in nursing pigs, struck the U.S. in 2013, with 200 to 300 cases per week reported from 2013 to 2014. 

Although this is the first reported case of PED in Alberta, the disease has long struck fear into Canadian pork producers. The first case of PED in Canada was discovered in January 2014 on a swine farm in Ontario. Since then, this virus has also been reported in Manitoba, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. 

Prince Edward Island and Quebec managed to get control of the disease, while Manitoba saw it spread significantly in 2017, reporting 80 infected farms that year.

Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director of Alberta Pork, said PED’s eventual entry into the province has been an ongoing fear, the Calgary Herald reported. 

“I think everybody always had the fear that it would show up everywhere. Once you have it, it’s really hard to contain,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s super unfortunate for the pigs, that’s our biggest concern. Once you have it, it’s pretty much the end of any baby pigs that are on the farm. The survival rate is quite low.”

The virus spreads by the fecal-oral route. One of the most common sources is infected feces coming onto a farm on various surfaces that can transmit the virus. 

Alberta Pork is working closely with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to fully investigate this outbreak and prevent the disease from spreading further, the notification from Alberta Pork said. According to Alberta Pork, there are 735 registered hog farmers in the province, accounting for 11% of Canada’s total hog production. Pork exports from Alberta total $425 million annually, according to government statistics.

The disease affects pigs but poses no risk to human health. This incident has not caused any food safety concerns, and pork products remain safe for consumption.

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