Lambton pork producer finds pig killing virus


A pork producer in Lambton County is among the latest farmers to be hit with a piglet-killing virus.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea, which doesn’t affect food safety and in not spread to other animals or humans, has been found in Europe for years.  It kills the youngest of piglets within three days. It spread to the US in 2013 and in January, a pork producer in Middlesex became the first Ontario farmer to find it in his barns.

At press time, Bill Wymenga, director of Ontario Pork, says a dozen farms have now had confirmed cases, including one in Lambton.

The particulars of the case aren’t known, but Wymenga says it is in a wean to finish operation where the greatest damage has likely been done in the nursery. Piglets, which haven’t been weaned yet, which contract PED usually die.

“The younger the animal the more susceptible they are to death rate,” says Wymenga. “In the finishing barns, we don’t lose a lot of animals.”

There, he says, the greatest risk is the spread of the virus which thrives in the cold.

The virus had been detected in Lambton in late January at Zantingh Direct in Reeces Corners. Ministry of Agriculture and Food officials tested for PED in the assembly yard after the Middlesex case was confirmed and found the virus there.

Zantingh, which ships animals for processing to the United States, has been beefing up bio security for months trying to minimize the risk of PED. Now those bio security measures are used to try to stop its spread

Wymenga says even with a dozen cases confirmed by Feb. 11, he doesn’t believe PED is spreading as fast as it has in the United States. But, he says, producers are still worried.

“Every case we hear about, it just increases producers anxiety,” Wymenga says. “We’ve been speaking with the producers and there are definitely concerns.”

The Ontario government estimates if 25 percent of the producers in the province have the virus, the industry stands to lose about $45 million.