Investigation into the role of potentially contaminated feed as a source of the first-detected outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea in Canada.
In January 2014, approximately 9 months following the initial detection of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) in the USA, the first case of PED was confirmed in a swine herd in south-western Ontario. A follow-up epidemiological investigation carried out on the initial and 10 subsequent Ontario PED cases pointed to feed as a common risk factor. As a result, several lots of feed and spray-dried porcine plasma (SDPP) used as a feed supplement were tested for the presence of PEDV genome by real-time RT-PCR assay. Several of these tested positive, supporting the notion that contaminated feed may have been responsible for the introduction of PEDV into Canada. These findings led us to conduct a bioassay experiment in which three PEDV-positive SDPP samples (from a single lot) and two PEDV-positive feed samples supplemented with this SDPP were used to orally inoculate 3-week-old piglets. Although the feed-inoculated piglets did not show any significant excretion of PEDV, the SDPP-inoculated piglets shed PEDV at a relatively high level for ≥9 days. Despite the fact that the tested PEDV genome positive feed did not result in obvious piglet infection in our bioassay experiment, contaminated feed cannot be ruled out as a likely source of this introduction in the field where many other variables may play a contributing role.