Yesterday, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced a new $31 million investment to increase the number of detector dogs at Canadian airports. This initiative is expected to facilitate the prevention of illegally imported meat products from entering the country.
According to the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, the investment will enable 24 detector dog teams to be added over the course of 5 years, increasing the total number of Food, Plant, and Animal Detector Dog Service teams to 39.
"As Canada's new Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I am committed to continuing Canada's efforts to prevent the introduction of African swine fever into the country. By working collaboratively, producers, the Canadian public at large and the international community can help stop the spread of this deadly disease affecting swine populations and protect Canada's fourth largest agricultural sector."
A news release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency specified that meat products that are illegally imported from countries affected by African swine fever are one of the most dangerous ways that animal diseases are brought to Canada. The news release also explained that detector dogs are the "best available method to intercept meat products", as correspondingly, the most useful resource in protecting the country's swine population from animal diseases.
Canada will be hosting the first-ever global African Swine Fever Forum between April 30th and May 1st in Ottawa. The event is intended to strengthen international cooperation to prevent the spread of animal diseases, including African swine fever.
The forum will be held in collaboration with the United States and has gained support from leadership in Mexico and the European Union. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as well as the World Organization for Animal Health, will be in attendance.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, no incidents of African swine fever have yet been recorded in Canada. While the disease poses no direct risk to the health of humans, it could negatively impact Canada's pork industry, potentially leading to the loss of at least 100,000 Canadian jobs.
Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness stated, "Foreign animal diseases pose a serious threat to Canadian industry. While there has never been a case of African swine fever in Canada, the Canada Border Service Agency recognizes the risks posed by travellers and commercial imports, and has taken steps to keep our country safe. Adding additional trained detector dogs will further strengthen their capacity in the years ahead."
Quick Facts About African Swine Fever
- African swine fever is a severe viral disease that causes fever, internal bleeding, and high death rates in swine.
- The disease is highly contagious and is spread through both direct and indirect contact the pigs and pork products. However, African swine fever does not infect or directly harm humans, and so it is not considered a food safety risk.
- Currently, no treatment or vaccine exists for African swine fever.
- The Canadian pork industry provides over 100,000 jobs, mostly in Manitoba, Quebec, and Ontario, and generates an estimated $24 billion to Canada's GDP.
For more information on the Government of Canada's efforts regarding ASF, please refer to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's webpage.