Discovery of avian TB hog case traced to Manitoba farm

CANADA - The discovery of the avian (bird) form of tuberculosis (TB) in a hog destined for a slaughter plant in the United States has been traced back to a farm in Manitoba that produced "iso-weans", according to government and industry sources.
calendar icon 3 February 2003
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The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Friday confirmed that a case of avian TB was found in a truckload of hogs that were born in Canada but fed in the US. Rumors of TB in Canadian hogs circulated through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's livestock trading pits earlier in the day.

An official with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed that a case of avian TB was indeed traced back to a location in Manitoba. "A common denominator was found, and that the animals came from a farm that produced iso-weans for the industry," he said. No further word on the location of the farm was available. Industry sources said the farm in question is already believed to have stopped producing iso-weans.

Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council said it is not unusual to find the disease in pigs. "Slaughter plants, whether in Canada or in the US, sometime find lesions on the lymph nodes of the hog's head and sometimes on the remainder of the carcass. If the lesions are isolated to the head, then that part is removed and disposed of. However, there are times when the lesions are also found on the carcass and in that case the whole animal will be destroyed."

Rice stressed that this is not a reportable disease, but it is commercially sensitive. "It is not a disease that causes food controls or border measures to be implemented," he said. "It used to be a fairly common occurrence a number of years back in both the US and Canada, especially when you had pigs grown in the vicinity of chicken coops."

What will happen is that the pig will become infected, but it will stop there. The pigs do not spread the disease among themselves, unlike the other form of TB, which is more normally found in cattle. The CFIA official said the Canadian government was working in tandem with the USDA on the discovery.

The avian TB organism "is ubiquitous in nature" and can be found in wild bird populations, in the soil, in sawdust, straw or hay used for bedding, and in bird droppings in or around the building where the hogs were housed.

Source: A ProMED-mail post by Resource News International - 31st January 2003

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