With the fall season here and winter on the way, the flu season is not far behind. It’s not too early to get your flu shot.

“The National Pork Board recommends that swine workers receive the seasonal flu shot for themselves especially if they have direct contact with hogs and work within hog facilities,” says Lisa Becton, DVM, NPB director of swine health information. “If workers feel ill and suspect influenza, it is always a good idea to work with your employer on a sick leave policy that allows you to stay home until symptoms have subsided to avoid making co-workers ill as well as prevent potential transmission of infection to swine.”

While flu is unpredictable, it’s likely that 2009 H1N1 viruses and regular seasonal viruses will cause illness in the U.S. this flu season, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine this fall. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.

"Virus shedding is at its peak when the clinical illness is most severe, but people may remain contagious up to 24 hours after symptoms stop, usually three to seven days," says Becton.

Good building ventilation and good hygiene also will help reduce transmission of flu viruses. "To prevent pigs and humans from other species' influenza viruses, producers also should look at bird-proofing their buildings, protecting feed from birds and enforcing biosecurity practices, such as the use of farm-specific clothing and footwear," said Becton. .

"A good Web site to reference for flu-related information is www.flu.gov," Becton added. 

Read the Influenza Public Health factsheet on the NPB Web site.