It was only a matter of time, so it’s not particularly surprising, but a potentially devastating pig disease has made its way into Ontario. It’s not a concern to people or other animals, but it’s worth mentioning here anyway (both to say it’s not a public health or non-pig health concern, and since it’s a good infectious disease topic).
The disease in question is porcine epidemic diarrhea, a rather generically named disease that is caused by the similarly un-originally named porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus, a type of Coronaviridae. Not surprisingly, it causes diarrhea in pigs, but the disease can be devastating. Once on a farm, a large percentage (up to 100% of pigs) can be affected, and death rates can be as high as 100% in young pigs. First identified in the UK in 1971, it’s worked its way across many regions, eventually making it to the US. Its high transmissibility (it can be spread by anything contaminated with pig manure, and it survives very well in the cold, even outside) and presence in the US has indicated a pretty substantial risk of incursion into Ontario, so finding cases in Ontario is unfortunately not surprising.
This evening, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food announced that the disease has been found on a Middlesex, Ontario farm. It’s a major concern because the disease can have a major impact on pig farms and it’s very difficult to control. Farmers have been urged to tighten up biosecurity measures for months since the virus emerged in the US in April 2013, and biosecurity measures will be even tighter now to try to prevent further spread. Presumably, a detailed investigation is underway to determine how the virus got onto the farm (and whether it might be on other Ontario farms).
This is a major concern for pig producers in Ontario but of no threat to other animal species, including people.