Pork Checkoff urges industry to get flu shots to protect people, pigs

Other on-farm practices should receive extra attention this time
of year, including reviewing the Pork Quality Assurance Plus
section that addresses influenza.

Every fall there are many on-farm tasks that need to be
adjusted, such as ventilation and rodent control. One practice that
needs to be added to the list is influenza protection, specifically
to prioritize flu vaccinations for everyone working on a pig
farm.

“Everyone associated with the farm should be vaccinated
whether they work directly with pigs or not,” says Heather
Fowler, DVM, director of producer and public health for the Pork
Checkoff. “That is the best thing producers can do to protect
their families, co-workers and pigs from the flu.”

In fact, a seasonal flu vaccination is a public health
recommendation and part of the One Health approach to protect
people, pigs and the global environment. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or
older be vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza. The
seasonal influenza vaccine is available now, so people should be
vaccinated as soon as possible to prompt their immune system to
prepare for flu season, which typically stretches from October to
May.

“Equally important, farms need to have sick-leave policies in
place that encourage workers to stay home if they are suffering
from flu-like like respiratory symptoms,” Fowler says. “While
it’s especially important to stay off the farm, people need to
stay away from public places and take time to rest and recover.
This will help shorten the duration and impact of the
infection.”

Influenza is a virus, and infections can last three to seven
days, although a cough can persist for more than two weeks.

“People with active infections can be contagious for several
days,” Fowler says. “They should not return to work for at
least 24 hours after their fever breaks without using a
fever-reducing medication.”

Other on-farm practices should receive extra attention this time
of year, including reviewing the Pork Quality Assurance Plus
section that addresses influenza. Here are a few critical
steps:

  • Animal caretakers should wash their hands and arms frequently
    with soap and water. Keep hands away from mouth, nose and
    eyes.
  • Monitor animal health daily and contact the herd veterinarian
    immediately if influenza is suspected. A rapid response is helpful
    when treating sick pigs and may also minimize losses and further
    spread.
  • Maintain proper building ventilation and barn hygiene to help
    reduce influenza virus transmission.
  • Ensure bird and rodent control programs are well
    established.
  • Do not allow anyone with flu-like symptoms to enter the
    facility, and ask visitors about recent contact with others who may
    have been ill.
  • Restrict eating in animal areas.

“The good news is that seasonal flu vaccinations are widely
available today, including convenient options, such as a quick stop
at the local pharmacy or clinic,” Fowler says. “Influenza can
be addressed effectively through vaccinations, which help reduce
the duration, intensity and spread of the virus. Producers are
committed to protecting swine health and welfare, as well as public
health. Getting vaccinations and following protocols to reduce the
potential transmission of influenza this season is one more step in
doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet.”

Source: National Pork Board, who is solely responsible for the
information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa
Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any
of the content contained in this information asset.

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Pork Checkoff urges industry to get flu shots to protect people, pigs