ESPHM: Discussion on the Swine Flu Threat

SCOTLAND – The European Symposium on Porcine Health Management (ESPHM) continued on Thursday (23 May) included two keynote addresses on swine flu, reports Jackie Linden.
calendar icon 24 May 2013
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The first session on the second day of the ESPHM in Edinburgh focused on swine flu.

Dr Kristien Van Reeth of the University of Ghent in Belgium addressed the topic ‘Influenza pandemics: Does the Greater Threat Come from Pigs, not Birds?’

She stated that it is impossible to make predictions about which animal influenza viruses may cause future pandemics although we can improve our insights into the mechanism of the species barriers relating to flu virus transmission.

This requires studies of the pathogenesis and transmission of flu viruses for various hosts in domestic animal species as well as better surveillance of influenza in pigs.

Veterinary scientists can bring a unique perspective to research, she said, adding the successful surveillance relies on the co-operation of pig veterinarians and producers.

Practical on-farm solutions to tackle swine influenza were described by Dr Giampetro Sandri of Gruppo Veronese in Italy. He presented the results of a 10-year monitoring programme in large pig units in the region of Verona. Most outbreaks were seasonal with a peak incidence in autumn and winter, and most cases were acute and epizootic. Three serotypes have been involved: H1N1, H3N2 and H1N2.

In five medium to large sow herds affected by swine flu between November 2005 and February 2007, morbidity rates were between 10 and 20 per cent and in one herd, mortality was 4.8 per cent over a 15-day period of infection.

Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIs) are still the best therapeutic approach to treat affected animals and Dr Sandri considers high biosecurity and regular vaccination very important.

“I would not want to risk not vaccinating,” he said.

In the discussion following the presentation, both speakers expressed their strong support for veterinarians, farmer and farm workers to receive flu vaccinations for both their own health and to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to their pigs if they become infected themselves.

Also on the subject of swine influenza, Dr Thais Vila of Merial presented work on the efficacy of Gripovac3/Respiporc Flu3 against a challenge with a recent H1N2 swine influenza virus in pigs. She concluded that the vaccination induces a protective response against challenge with a recent European H1N2 strain with 95.5 per cent amino acid homology (HA1) with the H1N2 vaccine strain.

The work also showed that the challenge could be effectively administered intranasally, which is easier and less stressful to the pigs than the more usual intratracheal route.

Further Reading

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