Porcine Epidemic Virus – PEDv – found in Manitoba
A new case of PEDv was confirmed in Manitoba on June 2nd, only one week after the illness appeared for the first time since January of 2015 in a sow barn in the province. PEDv – Porcine Epidemic Virus – is a devastating illness that can often wipe out entire herds of pigs through a combination of diarrhea and vomiting. It is especially deadly for young pigs. It almost always fatal for any piglet that acquires it.
History of PEDv
PEDv was first discovered in Europe in 1978. It did not present a large problem until 2011, when a new strain appeared in Asia. Since then, the disease has been threatened pork producers around the world.
The new strains have posed a serious challenge. This is because vaccinations developed for other versions of the virus are not effective. The result is devastating consequences on any farm affected by the disease.
Disturbing on a number of levels
This latest case is a frightening development. We should never forget that we are also animals, and raising these animals en masse is a huge threat to public health. Although PEDv does not affect human beings, it could easily cross the species barrier. Pigs and human beings have remarkably similar biology, hence the rise of devastating diseases like Swine Flu and PEDv.
It is sad that attempts at containing this illnesses have failed so miserably. In researching the material for this post I discovered much of disease transmission is due to poor bio-containment. Trucks are improperly washed, leading to the spread of disease. I am sadly reminded of the Ebola epidemic, where many became needlessly infected because proper protocol was not followed.
Factory farms give rise to terrible diseases because the confine large numbers of animals in small spaces. The squalid conditions and overcrowding make them ripe for the spread of illness. This is particularly true on pig farms. Pork facilities are second only to chicken farms in terms of over-crowding. One has only to look at any photo of a large pig farm in order to understand how quickly disease can spread in these facilities.
The way we treat animals today harms both them and us. Animal consumption is bad for our health, the environment and our own sense of justice. You can live without bacon, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to live with the diseases that arise from pork. Recent epidemics of swine and avian flu have taught us the dangers inherent in producing these animals on such a large scale. I hope we can learn from our mistakes and protect the health of ourselves and the animals by ending factory farming.
You can read more about the incident here: First PEDv Case in Over a Year Found in Manitoba – Real Agriculture