By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The piglet-killing Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) has spread to a second Canadian farm, government officials said on Monday.
A laboratory test confirmed the virus in a barn near Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and another possible case is under investigation in the same area, said Greg Douglas, the Canadian province's chief veterinary officer.
"We still are under the impression that there are strategies to help mitigate, slow the spread of this virus in Ontario," he said. "However, the confirmed case, the second case, and the third under suspicion, does change the situation, the reality."
The two Chatham-Kent farms involve finishing barns handling older pigs that generally get sick and recover from the virus.
Last week, the Ontario government said the virus, which has killed at least 1 million pigs in the United States, was found on a hog farm in southern Ontario's Middlesex County, marking the first confirmed case of the virus on a Canadian farm.
Virtually all of that farm's several hundred two- to five-day-old piglets have died, Douglas said.
Ontario is Canada's second-biggest hog-producing province, after Quebec.
Olymel LP, one of Canada's biggest pork processors, also detected the virus last week at an unloading dock of its Saint-Esprit slaughter facility northeast of Montreal, Quebec.
PEDv - which causes diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration in hogs - has turned up in 23 of the 50 states since its discovery in the United States last April.
The virus, which is already established in Europe and Asia, poses no threat to humans and is not a food safety risk, according to the Canadian Swine Health Board. The virus can spread through contaminated pig feces on pigs, trucks, boots and clothing, and the industry has increasingly demanded trucks be disinfected before they load pigs.
If the virus were to spread across Canada within one year, it would cause an estimated C$45 million ($40.6 million) in damage to the Canadian hog industry, said Amy Cronin, a hog farmer and chairwoman of Ontario Pork.
A drop in the Canadian hog supply would pose a major challenge for Olymel and fellow hog processor Maple Leaf Foods Inc, both of which also raise pigs.
(Editing by James Dalgleish)