CANADA - A veterinary pathologist with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine says influenza has become an increasingly challenging infection to deal with within the swine herd, writes Bruce Cochrane.
The latest Canada-West Swine Health Intelligence Network report indicates western Canada's swine herd is generally healthy and strong but influenza remains present and is always a risk.
Dr Susan Detmer, an Assistant Professor in Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says influenza typically slows growth so animals must be fed long or sold at a smaller size.
Dr Susan Detmer-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
I've been watching the influenza strains in western Canada for around five years now and the biggest changes that that I've seen is we have these emerging strains that seem to be causing more respiratory illness within the nursery age group and we actually have had increased mortality within the nursery groups around four to five weeks of age and that has been actually quite dramatic on some farms with some strains of influenza.
We've had a new strain that emerged in 2013 in Manitoba.
It's had limited spread outside of Manitoba but it is causing a huge problem within Manitoba.
It's an Alpha which is like the classical H1N1 virus but it's picked up the N2 from the H3N2 virus so it's picked up enough changes that it's causing problems and the vaccines really don't work on it, especially the commercial vaccines so we've really been struggling with trying to control that virus.
Dr Detmer notes the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan have provided funding for surveillance research and, if producers talk to the veterinarian, they can get free PCR testing to determine what strain they have and a strategy can be developed to deal with the infection.
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