The Canadian Food Inspection Agency this week said it is conducting tests to determine if feed may be a contributing factor in the current Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus outbreak.
The virus, first discovered in the U.S. last year, poses no risk to human health or food safety. It does, however, result in high mortality among piglets and can be easily transferred from one farm to another via the fecal-oral route.
The tests stem from a voluntary recall of Grand Valley Farms' pelleted swine nursery feed products containing porcine plasma on Feb. 9.
Testing has determined that PED virus was present in samples of U.S.-origin plasma obtained at the third-party manufacturer for Grand Valley Fortifiers. This plasma was used as an ingredient in feed pellets produced by the company, CFIA says.
Testing with a swine bioassay has determined that the plasma ingredient contains PED virus capable of causing disease in pigs.
According to Grand Valley Fortifiers, the Feb. 9 recall was initiated without confirmation of PED contamination, but as of Feb. 18, they expressed concern for affected farms.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who are now struggling with us to fight this new and aggressive virus," a statement noted. "We are doing everything we can to work with the government authorities to conclusively determine if our pelleted nursery feeds have been contaminated and unfortunately transmitted the virus to our valued farm partners."
While Grand Valley Fortifiers say that Dr. Doug MacDougald from South West Ontario Veterinary Services and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food epidemiological team have received information from an unrelated incident that the virus may be able to be transmitted through feed, CFIA says further testing will be done to assess if the feed pellets are capable of causing disease in piglets.
That testing will look for a direct link between the feed and the spread of the disease, as the virus is only confirmed in a single ingredient at this time. Results are expected within days, CFIA said.
The CFIA is working closely with the company to confirm the effectiveness of the recall, and is examining company records to see where potentially affected product was distributed, they said.
The agency is also reviewing records of other imports of swine plasma and says it will work with the Council of Chief Veterinary Officers and the pork industry in Canada to proactively manage the possible risk of transmission through feed.
As the investigation continues, additional actions such as recalls may be necessary to minimize the potential that feed could contribute to the transmission of this disease in Canada, CFIA says.
U.S. pork producers looking for ways to reduce PEDV contamination in feed ingredients can consult a Kansas State University document detailing options for reducing PEDV exposure in feed and testing for PEDV in feed.
However, KSU's Applied Swine Nutrition Team notes that the "magnitude of risk that swine feed can be a potential vector for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus transmission is currently unknown," however, "we believe it is prudent for pig producers be knowledgeable of feed ingredients and their potential risk in swine diets," they said.
• Testing porcine products for PED before using in diets and only using after verified as PCR negative for PED virus
• Replacing porcine based products in diets with bovine products (Ex. bovine plasma to replace porcine plasma)
• Removing all animal proteins, except milk products, from the diet.
More information regarding the PEDV-feed issue can be found on K-State's diet options webpage.