Seasonal Flu Vaccinations Protect People and Pigs

by 5m Editor
31 October 2011, at 9:52am

CANADA - The Canadian Swine Health Board says seasonal flu vaccinations can protect both people and the pigs they work with from influenza, writes Bruce Cochrane.

With the onset of flu-season, the Canadian Swine Health Board is recommending pork producers and their farm workers take steps to protect their pigs and themselves by getting seasonal flu vaccinations as soon as possible.

Dr Dan Hurnik the chair of the Canadian Swine Health Board's Long Term Disease Risk Management Committee and a member of the faculty of the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island, says influenza becomes much more prevalent in the fall and winter.

Dr Dan Hurnik – Canadian Swine Health Board

The virus will survive on cold wet surfaces so in the summertime things dry out and transmission slows down but in the winter any surfaces that stay cold and wet keep the virus around longer so we see a typical spike of influenza in people in the fall and winter.

When people are infections that's when pig herds can be at risk as well.

It's a respiratory virus only so it's spread by coughing and sneezing and contaminated hands.

What the pandemic strain showed is that many species of animals are susceptible.

Dogs were found to be infected, ferrets and it was found in pigs and then it spread to pigs all over the world primarily from people.

The fact that it's only a respiratory infection, it doesn't infect the pigs and the meat so there's no risk to people from the meat but it can make pigs sick and lose productivity.

The don't eat as much and don't grow as quickly.

Dr Hurnik says the strains in the vaccines change every year to reflect the most likely to be present in that season and Health Canada recommends that all Canadians be vaccinated and many workplaces also recommend it so the workforce will stay healthy.