Agricultural Aspects Of Swine Flu
Influenza viruses can infect a number of species of animals and people. Poultry, pigs and people are commonly infected with horses and dogs occasionally being infected. Each strain of influenza virus seems to prefer one type of host, but these viruses can change and jump to a new host species.
Swine Influenza in pigs is a reportable disease in Manitoba but not on a federal level. To date, there have been no reports of animals with swine influenza in Manitoba.
The influenza reported in Mexico and the United States is a new variant of the H1N1 influenza virus and has genetic coding from swine, poultry and human influenza viruses.
Manitoba’s Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) is leading the surveillance component of the national Canadian Animal Health Surveillance Network. This network will be used to co-ordinate influenza surveillance in animals across Canada. Manitoba has pioneered work in creating a tool to analyze routine submissions to vet labs and create disease profiles.
The CVO has provided veterinarians and Manitoba pork producers with information related to this swine flu situation.
The Office of the CVO is working with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living and other government departments to manage the risks to humans and to pigs.
Since 2006, over 7,350 DNA tests and over 26,460 blood tests for swine influenza surveillance were done in Manitoba. While influenza can occur as naturally in pigs as in humans, the chance of mortality remains low. Any cases of respiratory illness/disease in pigs should be investigated by a veterinarian.
Swine producers are encouraged to maintain biosecurity measures in their production facilities to reduce the risk of introducing an influenza virus to their livestock.
Biosecurity is a process for controlling the spread of infectious and organic disease. A biosecurity program reduces/prevents:
* the introduction of new diseases, and
* the spread of diseases on farms and ranches and between neighbouring farms and ranches.
Biosecurity practices include washing and disinfecting hands and clothing and footwear used in production areas. To minimize the opportunity for influenza to pass from people to pigs, or from pigs to people, anyone suffering from flu-like illness should avoid contact with swine.