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Canada to step up swine health surveillance

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Canada will invest up to $1.5 million to adopt virus detection system to support swine health.

Canada's hog sector, which includes more than 8,000 hog farms, is a key driver of the Canadian economy, accounting for $4.5 billion in farm receipts and $4 billion in pork exports in 2017, according to an announcement from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada.

Canada's Parliamentary Secretary Jean-Claude Poissant announced Dec. 12, on behalf of Agriculture & Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, investments of more than $1.5 million to support animal health and disease surveillance in Canada's hog sector.

"Our government continues to help the hog sector grow and remain competitive. ... These investments will further strengthen and help bring stability to the sector and provide pork producers with more opportunities to sell their products abroad, helping to grow our economy and our middle class," Poissant said.

According to the announcement, Canada's federal government will invest up to $1.5 million in the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) to adopt a virus detection system to support animal health. Funded under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriAssurance Program, the virus detection system will enable CPC to provide consistent information on the health status of the hog population across the country, track early disease warning signs and rapidly identify new and emerging diseases in the sector before they spread.

"Canadian pork producers welcome this investment in research and development from the government of Canada in the area of swine health. This project will provide comprehensive tests to laboratories and will help veterinarians and producers manage the Canadian hog herd," CPC chair Rick Bergmann said. "Furthermore, using the data obtained through this project to inform disease surveillance activities will greatly benefit the industry and help prepare for disease mitigation."

The new funds complement a previous investment of more than $94,000 to the University of Montréal to develop an advanced disease surveillance tool to enable faster threat detection across Canada. With funding under Growing Forward 2's AgriMarketing Program (Assurance Systems stream), the surveillance model developed by the university's Diagnostic Services will enable the hog sector to better understand the frequency of diseases, emerging strains and the movement of endemic diseases in Canada, the announcement said.

"The project established the base of a model for sharing and managing swine microorganism sequences in Canada. This represents a structuring, complementary and synergic basis for surveillance to understand strain emergence and movement of economically important endemic diseases in Canada," Diagnostic Services director Dr. Estela Cornaglia noted.

Additionally, CPC said in partnership with the Atlantic Veterinary College Diagnostic Services (AVCDS) at the University of Prince Edward Island, the “Enteric Viral Multiplex Assay for Swine Health Surveillance in Canada” project will provide a comprehensive test to laboratories and will help veterinarians and producers manage the Canadian hog herd. The data obtained through this project will also be used to inform disease surveillance activities through the Canadian Swine Health Intelligence Network.

Dr. Greg Keefe, dean of the Atlantic Veterinary College, said the investment will allow AVCDS "to further contribute to the health and productivity of Canada’s swine industry. This project will allow us to further refine our current multiplex assay for swine enteric diseases, contributing to the advancement of a national swine health surveillance system.”

The funding announcement was made at Le Porc Show, Québec’s annual swine industry event.

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