H1N1 Flu Virus (Human Influenza)
CFIA: Advice for Veterinarians and Swine Producers
Flu Virus (Human Swine Influenza) - Advice for Veterinarians and Swine Producers
Preliminary testing conducted by
the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) indicates the presence of H1N1 flu
virus in a swine herd in Alberta. The pigs were likely exposed to the virus
from an individual who had recently returned from Mexico and had been exhibiting
flu-like symptoms. Signs of illness were subsequently observed in the pigs.
All pigs have since recovered or are recovering.
The herd has been placed under quarantine,
and the CFIA is working with public health colleagues to determine the most
appropriate next steps to ensure that public and animal health remain protected.
The CFIA is asking veterinarians
and producers to increase their biosecurity measures to limit any risks to animal
The safety of the food supply is not affected. Influenza viruses do not affect
the safety of pork, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As with any raw
meat, pork should always be properly handled and cooked to eliminate a range
of food safety concerns.
What is swine influenza?
Swine influenza is a contagious
respiratory disease of pigs. The disease is commonly seen in North and South
America, Asia and Europe. Illness is caused by Type A Influenza viruses, which
also affect a range of other animals, as well as humans.
Influenza viruses are commonly detected
in pigs, which can become infected by humans, birds or other pigs. The transfer
of influenza from pigs to humans is rare and usually involves close contact
with sick animals. However, the CFIAis following a highly precautionary approach
to minimize potential human and animal health risks, no matter how remote they
may be. All appropriate measures will be taken to prevent any potential virus
dissemination during the operation.
The CFIAis working with its provincial
and territorial counterparts to monitor swine herds and to encourage producers
to maintain strict disease prevention measures.
What are the symptoms in pigs?
Signs of swine influenza include the following:
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- nasal discharge
- difficulty breathing
- reduced fertility or abortion
How can pigs be protected?
The following actions can potentially prevent swine influenza:
- vaccinating animals
- ensuring farm workers maintain
- following strict biosecurity
- providing adequate ventilation
- identifying and segregating sick
animals as early as possible
What precautions should producers
take to limit the risk of introducing and spreading disease?
- Anyone exhibiting signs of respiratory
illness should avoid contact with animals.
- Workers in swine facilities who
have been exposed to influenza or someone diagnosed with influenza should
avoid contact with animals until they have been checked by a healthcare worker.
- Avoid contact with swine outside
- Control and restrict visitors'
access to the herd.
- Require all visitors to wear
clean boots, clothing and gloves and wash hands thoroughly on entry and exit.
- Prevent other animals from coming
into contact with the herd.
- Maintain records of the movement
of people, animals and equipment on and off the premises.
- Only obtain new animals from
reputable sources and limit the frequency of introducing new pigs to the herd.
- House newborn, weaned, feeder,
and breeding pigs separately.
- Move pigs in groups during each
production stage, in an all-in-all-out manner.
- Routinely clean and disinfect
buildings, barns, equipment, clothing and footwear.
- Designate a cleaning area for
vehicles and equipment.
- Promptly dispose of dead pigs
in a manner that minimizes the chance of spread of any disease.
- Implement a manure management
- Avoid borrowing equipment and
vehicles from other farms.
Herd health management:
- Monitor herd health daily and
employ veterinary services.
- Uniquely identify all animals
- In consultation with a veterinarian,
consider vaccinating animals.
- Isolate sick pigs and immediately
report any signs of illness to your veterinarian or the nearest CFIAoffice.
- Train all staff on your biosecurity
program and monitor its effectiveness.
- Be aware of any diseases in your
area and adjust your biosecurity program accordingly.
- Recommend farm workers discuss
an annual flu vaccination with their doctor. (Vaccination may reduce the amounts
of virus shed if infected during human influenza outbreaks, and limit the
potential for human influenza virus infection of pigs. The effectiveness of
current human vaccines against this new strain is not known at this time.)
What precautions should veterinarians take when investigating respiratory illnesses in swine?
The CFIArecommends that veterinarians:
- prepare and plan the visit by
contacting the producer beforehand;
- park in designated areas or as
far as possible from animals;
- keep a log book of farms visited;
- use appropriate personal protective
- N95 masks, gloves, impermeable
coveralls, protective clothing and footwear and eye protection;
- wash hands thoroughly after handling
- leave as you arrived and clean
and sanitize vehicles and equipment;
- dispose of protective equipment
in a safe manner:
- either leave it on the farm to
be appropriately disposed or
- remove it and place it in "contaminated
materials" containers for transport to the office;
- prioritize work by attending
low-risk jobs first and then observe animals for concerns; and
- avoid or minimize contact with
manure storage, feed supplies, and water supplies.
Until more is known about how this
illness affects swine, if swine influenza is suspected - do not travel to another
swine farm for 48 hours.
For more detailed information on
biosecurity measures recommended for disease investigation farm visits please
contact your local CFIAoffice.
For additional information: www.inspection.gc.ca