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P.E.I. has first case of deadly pig virus

P.E.I. has first case of deadly pig virusHogs are shown at a farm in Buckhart, Ill., June 28, 2012. A professor at a Prince Edward Island veterinary college says his worse fears have been realized with confirmation of a case of the deadly pig virus porcine epidemic diarrhea on an Island farm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/M. Spencer Green, File

CHARLOTTETOWN - A professor at a Prince Edward Island veterinary college says his worse fears have been realized with confirmation of a case of the deadly pig virus porcine epidemic diarrhea on an Island farm.

"We were worried about the virus even before this break. We were hoping it wouldn't come," said Dan Hurnik, a professor of swine health management at the Atlantic Veterinary College.

The province's Agriculture Department says the National Centre of Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg has confirmed the presence of the virus, a highly contagious disease that has already killed millions of piglets in the United States.

The province is prepared to prevent the spread of the virus, Hurnik said.

"(Producers) have had training sessions on biosecurity, so what we're doing is reinforcing that training."

Hurnik said an investigation is underway to determine how the virus arrived at the farm, which has not been identified.

The Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network issued a bulletin on Thursday that said a case of the suspected virus was detected by a P.E.I. veterinary lab overnight Wednesday.

The disease, which poses no risk to human health or safety, first emerged in Canada less than a month ago at a southwestern Ontario pig farm.

That number has since risen to 16 affected farms in Ontario and one in Manitoba.

The Canadian Swine Health Board said Saturday that the virus would be spreading more swiftly throughout the country if it weren't for stricter measures taken after the U.S. outbreak last May.

Executive director Robert Harding said the emergence of the disease gave the industry a warning and that, along with more vigilant farm practices in recent years, has helped minimize its impact thus far.

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