Pork virus outbreak in U.S. worries Alberta producers

A viral outbreak in the U.S. has Canadian pork producers concerned, but it could also give the Canadian industry a boost.

Disease could be brought to Canada by livestock transport trucks

An outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea is killing young pigs in the U.S. (Ottawa Humane Society)

Canadian pork producers are worried about a virus that is killing young pigs in the United States.

An outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea has affected herds in 22 American states.

Pork producers say this could open the U.S. market to more Canadian pork. However, there is also the danger that the disease could be brought to this country. 

Egan Brockhoff, a veterinarian in Red Deer, says producers and transporters of livestock have to be very careful. 

"The virus is spread through fecal oral transmission," he said. "So we want to make sure that trucks coming back to Canada that have been near American pigs are washed, disinfected and properly dried before returning to a Canadian hog farm."

Darcy Fitzgerald of the Alberta Pork Producers, says members are seeing higher prices for their product, but he cautions that preventing an outbreak of the virus in Canada is the priority.

"Our bigger concern right now is making sure that the pigs we haul into the U.S. don't allow us to see trucks come back up with the disease," he said.

Fitzgerald said the economic effects will be felt mainly in the spring and summer. 

Pork futures in the U.S. have almost doubled in some cases and consumers can expect to pay more for pork as a result. 

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