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.
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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.