Pig industry leaders and farmers alike throughout North and South America are extremely concerned that African Swine Fever will somehow infect pigs in their countries. What does Canada do to keep the virus out?
First of all, it helps that nowhere in this part of the world has the virus been found in wild boar populations, but passive surveillance continues in these populations for ASF and various other diseases.
For Canada, the biggest threat is smuggled meat, said Dr Egan Brockhoff, a swine veterinarian and partner at Prairie Swine Health Services in Red Deer, AB, Canada, and veterinary counselor for the Canadian Pork Council. “We are focusing our efforts on all the possible ways of virus introduction and reducing risk along those pathways,” he explained.
对加拿大而言，最大的威胁是走私肉类，Dr Egan Brockhoff如此说道，他是一名猪兽医，也是加拿大马鹿草原猪健康服务中心的合作伙伴，同时也是加拿大猪肉委员会的兽医顾问。他解释说:“我们正集中精力研究所有可能的病毒传播途径，并在这些途径上降低风险。”
Keeping eyes wide open is essential to prevent ASF from entering Canada. Illustration: Shutterstock
Travellers bringing in illegal meat
“Travellers bringing in illegal meat is an established high-risk pathway. That’s how Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) was introduced into Canada after the Second World War. Some sausage was brought to a farm and some of the meat was thrown out and got fed to the pigs.”
Contaminated meat could be shipped into Canada by mail, in shipping containers or by airline travellers themselves (on their persons or in luggage). Dr Brockhoff said, “We know that Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Australia have all had ASF-contaminated meat products entering their borders, and also in the case of Australia, FMD. The Canadian pork industry has asked that many more sniffer dogs be put into service at Canadian airports. They are a highly-effective tool.”
More sniffer dogs wanted to avoid ASF from entering
Since the Canadian pork sector sent letters of request for more sniffer dogs to the federal government about a month ago, Dr Brockhoff said engagement from the Minister of Agriculture, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Canadian Border Service Agency has been ‘very good’.
It’s impossible for Dr Brockhoff or anyone to say whether more dogs will be put into place fast enough to help prevent a possible ASF breach – or whether the existing dog pool might find a smuggled meat product that turns out to be ASF-positive before then. In the big picture, he said, “I think we have to recognise that we’ve had contaminated meat products coming to our borders for years. We have to get ahead of it. We are keen to see more dogs come into play.”
Other serious potential entry pathways for ASF into Canada are contaminated packaging and feed ingredients. Dr Brockhoff noted that soy-based ingredients seem to be the best at keeping the virus alive, and also that the Canadian swine industry imports a great deal (or even all) of certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are put into feed.
Canada’s small pig operations
Canada’s backyard and small pig operations may pose a risk for virus spread in that there are likely some, said Dr Brockhoff, that are not part of the national pig traceability scheme, PigTrace. All producer locations across the country that transport even one pig from one location to another must be registered with PigTrace.
Dr. Brockhoff说，加拿大的后院及小型养猪场也是一个风险，因为其中有一些猪场并不在国家养猪可追溯计划Pig Trace的范围内。在加拿大，所有生产商都必须在Pig Trace上注册，哪怕只是把一头猪从某处运送到另一处。
“We are reaching out to make sure backyard and small farmers who haven’t been exposed to information on biosecurity protocols understand them and apply them,” said Dr Brockhoff.
Biosecurity as powerful tool
“Biosecurity is the most powerful tool we have for keeping viruses that may have entered the country away from pigs, or containing the virus on a given farm. Our commercial producers are very aware of these protocols, which are part of the Quality Assurance Program. We’re reaching out to small producers through farm magazines, social media and producer meetings.”
As in other countries, Canada is putting huge effort into keeping ASF out, said Dr Brockhoff, from both the pig sector and the government angle. It remains to be seen whether these efforts will prove fruitful. Canada will host an international gathering called the ASF Forum at the end of April in Ottawa, which will have a focus, says Dr Brockhoff, on prevention of entry.