The A/H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, has been found at a pig farm in Alberta, Canada, the World Organization for Animal Health reported May 5.
The information was submitted by Brian Evans, DVM, chief veterinary officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to comply with OIE regulations.
The chance that the Alberta pigs could transfer the virus to a person is remote, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which maintains that Canadian pork continues to be safe to eat.
The infection was linked to a farm carpenter who returned to Canada from Mexico on April 12. The carpenter, the producer and the producer’s family suffered flu-like symptoms, and signs of respiratory illness were subsequently observed in the pigs. Canadian Veterinary Services immediately put the farm under quarantine.
The Clearwater County farrow/finishing operation includes 220 sows and their piglets in two barns and 1,800 growers in four barns. The 450 cases with clinical signs were in the grower population.
No deaths were reported within this pig population. The OIE considered the episode “a mild disease and the pigs have now recovered.”
Weekly follow-up reports will be submitted, according to the OIE.
In the meantime, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is asking veterinarians and producers to increase their biosecurity measures to limit any risks to animal health.
To protect pigs, the agency recommends vaccinating animals, ensuring farm workers maintain good hygiene, following strict biosecurity practices, providing adequate ventilation in barns and identifying and segregating sick animals as early as possible.
Signs of sickness in pigs include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing and reduced fertility or abortion.
The agency recommends that veterinarians:
• Contact the producer before a visit.
• Park in designated areas or as far as possible from animals.
• Keep a log book of farms visited.
• Use equipment such as N95 masks, gloves, impermeable coveralls, protective clothing and footwear and eye protection.
• Wash hands thoroughly after handling animals.
• Leave as you arrived and clean and sanitize vehicles and equipment.
• Dispose of protective equipment in a safe manner (i.e. leave it behind for appropriate disposal or place it in “contaminated materials” containers for transport to the office).
• Prioritize work by attending low-risk jobs first.
• Avoid or minimize contact with manure storage, feed supplies and water supplies.