Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) is a viral disease of pigs. In susceptible herds, it causes watery diarrhea, dehydration and high death loss (up to 100 per cent) in nursing pigs. In sows, it may cause loose feces and reduced appetite, while in growing pigs there will be widespread diarrhea with low mortality. It is caused by a coronavirus similar to the one that causes Transmissible Gastroenteritis (TGE) in pigs. It does not affect humans, nor is it a food safety risk.
PED has been present in Europe and Asia for many years, but was not known to be present in North America until it was identified in the United States in the spring of 2013. It was first found in Canada January 2014 on a farm in Ontario. It has since been detected in Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and, most recently, Alberta. Spread of the disease could have a severe impact on the industry.
The virus is shed in the feces of infected pigs and may remain viable in the environment for a long time. In cold weather, virus survival increases to up to 28 days or more. With movement of pigs and transport trailers across the country, there are many opportunities for dissemination of PED.
To date, the incidence of PED in Canada has been limited by industry's heightened on-farm biosecurity protocols and dedication to thorough cleaning and disinfection of transport trailers. In Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Sask Pork partnered to develop the Saskatchewan Swine Biosecurity Program, which provides funding for veterinarian visits to assess on-farm biosecurity protocols, purchase of approved equipment required to improve biosecurity and truck wash audits and inspections.
Sites with high pig traffic, such as assembly yards or slaughter plants, are at high risk for the spread of PED. Early detection is the key to minimizing the spread of the disease. The Ministry of Agriculture is monitoring the environment of several high-traffic sites in Saskatchewan. These sites are sampled weekly, and testing is done at Prairie Diagnostic Services in Saskatoon using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test developed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Ministry also contacts Sask Pork to conduct additional surveillance testing around the province.