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Home > News > Emergence of FMD-like disease in Canada prompts warnings for UK importers

Emergence of FMD-like disease in Canada prompts warnings for UK importers

11th Oct 2016 / By Alistair Driver

An emerging pig disease that resembles foot-and-mouth has been detected in Canada, prompting further warnings about the potential threat it poses to the UK pig herd.

SVASenecavirus A (SVA), also known as Seneca Valley Virus, has been discovered in multiple pig herds in Brazil since 2014 and in the US since mid-2015.

It has now been reported in pigs in Ontario, the first time it has been found in Canada since last year’s upsurge of cases in the US.

The main reason the virus is such a concern is that it causes vesicular disease (image from website) that closely resembles FMD. Testing is the only way to rule out notifiable classical vesicular diseases, meaning its discovery triggers costly movement restrictions until it can be ruled out.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is testing all pigs at federal processing plants that show possible symptoms and the US authorities have turned away at least eight truckloads of pigs which apparently showed signs of the disease.

Processing plants can be shut down up to 72 hours while testing is being conducted, which is having a big knock-on effect on Canadian production and exports.

Dr Julia Keenliside, from Alberta’s Agriculture and Rural Development said: “Because foot-and-mouth disease is one of these huge scary reportable trade diseases where we shut down plants and farms, we have to be really diligent in reporting blisters of any kind and making sure we can differentiate that it is Seneca Valley virus and it's not foot-and-mouth.”

Warning for UK importers

The NPA is warning UK importers to take extra precautions when it comes to SVA, which was recently added to the Imports Protocol following its emergence in Brazil and the US.

NPA senior policy adviser Georgina Crayford said APHA considers it an emerging threat to UK pig health.

She said: “I therefore urge anyone importing pigs to take special precautions to ensure you do not bring them in from herds affected at any time with SVA, or herds with any links to others which have been affected.”

Clinical signs of the disease include:

  • Blisters/vesicles or ulcers of the snout, mouth, and/or just above the hoof
  • Lameness
  • Fevers
  • Lack of energy and/or appetite
  • Lesions
  • Four to 10-day increase in piglet mortality with/without diarrhoea.

In Brazil, up to 80 per cent of the industry is estimated to have been affected between October 2014 and March 2015 with rapid spread across the country into six states in three geographical regions.

In the US, from July to early November 2015, SVA has been detected in around 100 pig herds, with both commercial and exhibition/show pigs affected. There has been a sharp decline in outbreaks since November 2015 in the US.

No testing for SVA has been performed on pigs in the UK. No recent vesicular disease reports have been made to suggest disease caused by the virus is are present or emerging.