Pork Producers Encouraged to Apply Lessons learned from COVID to Preventing Influenza Spread

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Farmscape for June 18, 2021

Full Interview 11:41 Listen

An Associate Professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is encouraging pork producers to apply the lessons learned from the COVID pandemic to the prevention of Influenza on the farm. Reduced travel, social distancing and the use of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, have reduced the prevalence of respiratory pathogens this year resulting in record low numbers of Influenza infection in humans.
Dr. Susan Detmer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says, as Influenza makes a comeback in Canada and the United States, we’re going to start seeing more pandemic virus circulating in humans and going back into pigs and we want to prevent that because it does cause significant production losses.

Clip-Dr. Susan Detmer-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We need to take some of the lessons that we’re learning from this COVID pandemic and apply it to what we do when we’re working on farms because Influenza is a risk. Human Influenza in pigs is something that we try to prevent. Every year, especially in January and February after the Christmas holidays, I see a surge in human to pig transmission of pandemic H1N1 virus and this last year we’ve had minimal pandemic H1N1 detected in pigs. All of the H1N1 viruses were more than two years on those sites based on the phylogenetics and so we know that human transmission to pigs was not occurring this year and that has a lot to do with the fact that the human population wasn’t spreading the pandemic virus amongst themselves.

Dr. Detmer says making sure you’re not going to work sick, if you have a cough getting tested and wearing masks will still be important to prevent influenza transmission in farms.

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