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Second case of deadly pig virus confirmed in Ontario

Officials in Ontario have confirmed a second case of a highly contagious pig virus that has ravaged herds across the U.S.

The province’s chief veterinarian announced the discovery Monday afternoon, just days after the first case of porcine epidemic diarrhea was confirmed in a farm in southwestern Ontario.

Greg Douglas said the latest case, and a third case which is still under investigation, were found in the Chatham-Kent region.

“We still are under the impression that there are strategies which we can work on to help mitigate, slow the spread of this virus in Ontario,” he said in a news conference.

“However, the confirmed case, second case and the third under suspicion certainly does change the situation — the reality — here in Ontario.”

Hundreds of piglets — nearly 100 per cent of those between two and five days old — have died at the first farm, Douglas said.

The other two hold older pigs which are less likely to die from the disease, he said.

It’s unclear where the virus came from but a group representing Ontario’s hog industry has warned it spreads through contact with manure.

Officials say the virus does not affect food safety and is not a risk to human health.

Producers have long worried that the disease might make its way up from the U.S., where it has killed millions of piglets.

Amy Cronin of Ontario Pork said they anticipate the industry will suffer, but how much depends on how far the disease is able to spread.

“We are putting into place measures to try to manage the virus as best we can and keep it off as many farms as we can given that it is very contagious,” she said.

“We estimate that if it were to spread past Ontario throughout Canada, within one year, it could cost $45 million to the Canadian pork industry.”

PED is not a federally reportable disease in Canada, which means there is no single set of protocols to help prevent it from spreading here or to deal with an outbreak.