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Keeping in touch helps Ontario pork industry keep a handle on key diseases

Reducing devastating disease outbreaks is priority number one for the Ontario Pork Industry Council.

The Council has seen diseases such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) strike Ontario’s pork industry. That’s why it created Area Regional Control and Elimination (ARC&E) programs to reduce and manage outbreaks of these threatening diseases. The new biosecurity program focuses on collaboration, communication and information-sharing across the industry to help prepare everyone to deal with outbreaks and manage disease transmission.

Both PRRS and PEDv spread quickly and can be devastating to a herd. Knowing where and when an outbreak happens can be an effective means to control and eliminate these diseases. That’s the purpose behind an interactive map the Ontario Pork Industry Council developed to voluntarily identify hog farms across Ontario, including sites experiencing PEDv or PRRS cases. Sharing this information with everyone involved in the industry is key and hog producers and veterinarians can sign up to access the map.

The map is a definite success with 55 per cent of the 2,057 swine operations in Ontario voluntarily participating. The ARC&E project is unique because success is due to open participation and collaboration between members of the pork industry in Ontario. This project has created a new level of voluntary disease status information-sharing and cooperation with participating producers, all in the interest of biosecurity and disease control and elimination.

“This program has helped control and eliminate PEDv in affected barns,” says Karen Sanders, ARC&E lead. “Sharing information is so important and can be extremely helpful – even to the unfortunate producer that has an outbreak. We’re all in this together, and when you get a bunch of producers troubleshooting, innovative solutions come out of the woodwork.” The ARC&E program has also helped determine PRRS status of participating hog farm sites – a serious disease estimated to cost the Canadian pork industry $130 million each year.

The interactive map improves communication and transparency between members of the pork industry. Participants can log in to view the map and PRRS site status and producer information. If there is a new case or outbreak of PRRS, all members will receive a notification with relevant information. In the case of PEDv outbreaks, information of infected sites, or farms, is also shared with high-impact service providers. These include transportation and feed providers so they can help reduce disease transmission.

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.