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Strengthen Biosecurity to Protect Health

10 September 2012, at 9:20am

CANADA - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reminding pig producers to take appropriate biosecurity measures to protect the health of their animals and people who may have contact with them.

The emergence of the variant H3N2 influenza virus in people and pigs in the United States is a strong reminder of the importance of practising on-farm biosecurity and spotting signs of disease early.

Although the variant H3N2 influenza virus is not federally reportable in Canada, the CFIA is monitoring the situation in close collaboration with public health authorities. To date, there is no evidence that this particular virus is circulating in humans or pigs in Canada. Still, the Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a Public Health Notice advising people to take precautions when attending fall fairs or petting zoos.

Although the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against this particular variant H3N2 influenza virus, the Public Health Agency recommends that people who have regular contact with pigs, such as farm workers and veterinarians should receive seasonal flu vaccinations. People who are sick should avoid contact with pigs.

Effective on-farm biosecurity is the best way to prevent the introduction and limit the spread of diseases such as influenza in pigs. Here are some steps that producers can take:

  • properly clean barns, equipment, clothing and footwear
  • identify and segregate sick animals as early as possible
  • consult a veterinarian if you believe your animals are sick

Influenza viruses typically cause the following symptoms in pigs:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • nasal discharge
  • difficulty breathing
  • reduced fertility or abortion

If producers are bringing their animals to fairs and events, the following measures are recommended:

  • choose fairs and events based on their animal health entry requirements
  • leave sick animals at home
  • segregate animals returning from fairs and events for at least 14 days

People visiting farms and events should:

  • wash their hands before and after their visit
  • ask before petting or feeding animals
  • stay home if they are feeling sick

In addition to animal health safeguards on the farm, Canada has stringent border measures in place to prevent diseases from entering the national herd. For example, pigs entering Canada must meet all federal animal health requirements. Pigs imported for slaughter must be accompanied by a health certificate confirming they are free of any communicable diseases. Pigs imported for breeding also must have a health certificate, and are subject to a 30-day quarantine.

The Canadian Swine Health Board has developed a tool called the National Swine Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard to assist producers in implementing biosecurity on farm. To obtain a copy of the National Swine Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard, please visit: