pe-hi-piglets

Concern about the spread of a virus that kills newborn piglets has reached a new level in Saskatchewan.

Contamination on one farm in Ontario with the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus has now been confirmed. The

'Until a herd is able to build up immunity, most of three weeks worth of births will just simply get diarrhea and die.'- Florian Possberg, chairman of Sask Pork

disease has been sweeping through the U.S., cutting into hog production there.

"This is pretty scary for us," said Florian Possberg, chairman of the Saskatchewan Pork Development Board (Sask Pork).

Possberg spent the morning in a cross-Canada conference call with the Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario.

"Until a herd is able to build up immunity, most of three weeks worth of births will just simply get diarrhea and die," Possberg said.

The older the animal, the better able it is to survive the disease, he said.

Once a herd is infected "you want to get (it) to have contact with the disease as broad as possible, as quickly as possible, and the herd will build up immunity," Possberg said.

Saskatchewan steps up biosecurity

The virus was first identified in the U.S. in May. Since then pork producers in Saskatchewan have stepped up biosecurity measures, taking extra care to sanitize trucks for instance.

But Possberg said all the ways the virus is spread is still not thoroughly understood, since high levels of bio-security have not prevented some herds from being infected.

"And so we're still trying to understand, can this move through feed for example?"

Meanwhile, steps are being taken to contain and eradicate the virus at the Ontario farm.