A $613,050 investment by the governments of British Columbia and Canada is resulting in increased surveillance and preventative measures to stop livestock diseases like porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus from spreading to British Columbia, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and British Columbia Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick announced. The funding provided to the BC Pork Producers Association results in immediate action to reduce the risk of PED virus arriving in British Columbia, and prepare measures to rapidly respond and contain the disease if it should ever enter the province.

The funding comes from the five-year Growing Forward 2 agreement, a $3-billion federal-provincial-territorial government investment in innovation, competitiveness and market development.

The immediate action includes:

  • Implementing enhanced biosecurity efforts at the two facilities that handle pigs from within and from outside British Columbia, including livestock transport trucks and driver-sanitation measures.
  • Two pork processing facilities and 21 pork-producing farms will be supported in developing response and containment plans to ensure rapid action should PED virus be found. In addition, enhanced auditing and application of national standards for on-farm biosecurity will be supported.
  • The industry will cost-share any activities that include the purchase of equipment and/or costs for infrastructure associated with enhancing biosecurity.

“Vigilance towards PED is key to reducing its impact on the Canadian agricultural sector and the economy as a whole. This investment will provide the B.C. Pork Producers Association with the tools and resources it needs to support producers and processors in improving biosecurity,” Ritz said.

PED virus is an extremely infectious and economically devastating pig disease that was first discovered in Canada in January.  The disease can be transmitted through animal feces among vehicles or equipment, and though harmless to people, results in a very high mortality in young piglets. To date, PED virus has not been found in British Columbia.

Testing for PED virus is conducted at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Health Centre. The facility receives more than 5,000 animal samples of all varieties for diagnosis annually and is one of only three Canadian labs accredited as a veterinary diagnostic laboratory by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.

In April the province passed a new Animal Health Act, updating nearly 70-year-old legislation, aimed at limiting the spread of current and emerging diseases like PED virus, and better responding to potentially disastrous outbreaks.