Protect yourself and protect your pigs this flu season
In anticipation of this flu season, the Pork Checkoff
is reminding producers, farm personnel, veterinarians and others who have
contact with pigs to get the flu shot. The flu season can start as early
as October and can last through May.
Dr. Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for
the Pork Checkoff, said, "Producers and swine farm workers can reduce the risk
of getting sick and bringing the flu to the farm or workplace by getting
"The flu shot contains two type A viruses and one type B
one. The A viruses may spread between people and pigs. The B virus is not
of concern to the health of the animals," Wagstrom said. Humans will
develop antibodies that will protect them against infection with the flu virus
two weeks after taking the flu shot, she added. The flu shot is available as an
injection or in a nasal spray. "The Centres for Disease Control and
Prevention, or CDC, recommends that pregnant women not get the nasal vaccine,"
Wagstrom recommends other
practices to reduce the spread of infection among workers and of the pigs with
human influenza viruses. Among them is modifying sick-leave policies to
encourage workers to stay away from the farm if they are suffering from acute
respiratory infections. "Virus shedding is at its peak when the clinical
illness is most severe, but people may remain 'contagious' as long as the
symptoms last, from three to seven days," she said.
ventilation and good hygiene also will reduce transmission of the flu
viruses. "To prevent pigs and humans from other species' influenza viruses,
producers also should look at bird-proofing their buildings, protecting feed
from birds and enforcing biosecurity practices such as the use of farm-specific
clothing and footwear." Wagstrom also suggested chlorinating the water
used on the farm, especially if it is surface or pond water since migrating fowl
and other wildlife may spread different viruses.
has great information about the flu shot, who should get it and who should
not. I'd recommend that everybody visit their Web site for more
information," Wagstrom added. The CDC's Web site is www.cdc.gov
The Pork Checkoff's own fact sheet on
influenza titled "Influenza: Pigs, People and Public Health" is available
Click here for the free Pig Progress
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