Canadian officials are reporting, but have not fully confirmed, that pigs in an Alberta pork operation contracted the new strain of the H1N1 virus. A worker who recently visited Mexico — and became ill with the flu — is suspected of transmitting the virus to a pig.
Pork producers here in the United States are reminded that thorough biosecurity practices are the key to preventing the introduction of this new influenza virus strain into their operations. If you are a contract producer, be sure to stay in communication with your integrator/production company about this issue.
Pork producers should consider the following practices:
1. Establish, implement and enforce strict sick leave policies for workers presenting with influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, body aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
- Prevent workers exhibiting these symptoms from entering swine facilities for at least seven days after presenting with symptoms of respiratory illness, even mild ones.
- Recommend that workers with these symptoms be seen by a medical provider immediately.
- Encourage workers to report if members of their household develop influenza-like symptoms or have been diagnosed with influenza. Consider restricting the contact that this worker has with the animals.
2. Implement biosecurity for workers reporting international travel.
- This recommendation is not limited to those people who had contact with animals in foreign countries.
- Consider preventing the entry of workers who have travelled internationally, and particularly to Mexico, into your operation.
- If entry is essential, consider requiring that these people use face masks, or preferably properly fitted, valveless N95 respirators, and gloves, upon entering and while inside a swine housing facility.
- If workers reporting international travel present with influenza-like symptoms, restrict their access to the farm. Recommend that they seek immediate medical attention and that they report their travel to the medical professional.
3. Limit visitors to swine facilities
- Limit the entry of people into your facility to workers and essential service personnel.
- Prevent international visitors from entering your facilities.
- Prevent the entry of people who report international travel (especially from Mexico) as recently as in the past two weeks.
4. Follow other generally accepted biosecurity practices, including:
- Enforce basic hygiene practices.
- Pay attention to ventilation.
- Implement and enforce the use of personal protective equipment.
- Recommend that all workers are vaccinated against the seasonal influenza virus Review herd health programs with your veterinarian to ensure they are up to date and effective for conditions on your farm.
If you observe, or employees report, respiratory illness in pigs, contact a swine veterinarian immediately, especially if the onset or presentation of this illness is unusual. If deemed necessary, your veterinarian may require samples be taken from animals to send to veterinary diagnostic laboratories. If animals develop a fever or go off feed, the veterinarian may take lung tissues samples and nasal swabs to send to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
If you have workers collect these samples, require that they use personal protective equipment including a properly fitted, valveless N95 respirator, gloves and safety goggles. The paper-like masks that people are wearing as "protection" filter out only large dust particles, they are not effective in smaller particles such as viruses.
Talk to your veterinarian if influenza-like symptoms have been reported or observed in any of the people that have, or have had, contact with your animals and report that upon submission of the samples to a diagnostic laboratory.
Source: North Carolina Pork Council