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Swine Influenza

Current Situation Variant H3N2v 

June 2013  Grant County Indiana Health Department officials reported four people contracted Variant Influenza A (H3N2v)  also known as Swine Flu at the Grant County Agricultural Fair.

Grant County Health Department officials say all individuals visited the fair prior to the illness and at least two had contact with swine. The State Board of Animal Health found 13 pigs that test positive for the H3N2v.

Officials are encouraging people to protect themselves from the strain by staying away from pigs or washing your hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal. Human  cases are rare but are more commonly found among those that work with pigs in barns and livestock exhibits. 

As of July  26,2013, Indiana Health Officials have reported 13 cases and Ohio officials have reported 1 case of Human H3N2v.  All 14 individuals had close contact with pigs a week prior to contracting the infection.  

 

Safety of Pork -- Swine influenza is a respiratory disease, thus you cannot contract the disease from consuming pork or pork products. Properly handled and cooked pork and pork products are safe to eat. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills bacteria and viruses. January 20, 2010 USDA reported on a study by their scientists, that reaffirms the safety of pork for consumption by the general public. In their study they found meat and tissue taken from swine exposed to two strains of the 2009 virus was free of the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control reported there were 309 cases of human H3N2v in 2012.  CDC reported case count for 2013. 

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, headache and muscle aches and can develop one to four days after exposure. The illness can last two to seven days

Last year , the 4-H National Headquarters and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) strongly urge you to disseminate this FACT SHEET (PDF 2012Aug30) to all swine exhibitors, their families, and staff working at swine exhibits or shows immediately. It is vitally important that this information be received prior to anyone attending a swine exhibit or show. The recommendations in this fact sheet should not be taken lightly. The number of flu outbreaks and states impacted continues to grow and it is the expectation that 4-H programs will take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of participants and their projects.

  Healthy Fairs Webinar Recorded for Viewing

In 2012, the National 4-H Headquarters, NIFA, and USDA hosted a Healthy Fairs Webinar to provide an overview of current public issues on H3N2v outbreaks related to fairs and exposure to swine, what can be done to help prevent infection with H3N2v, and what to do if faced with H3N2v in your states and counties.

 To view the webinar -- Healthy Fairs

 Talking points for 2012 Outbreak of Human Cases of Swine Influenza
      New Mexico State University

 



Swine Influenza and 2009 H1N1 

Swine Influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by Influenza A viruses. Swine influenza viruses circulate among swine throughout the year, but most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months similar to influenza outbreaks in humans. The classical swine flu virus Influenza A H1N1 was first isolated from a pig in 1930 and was  the primary cause of swine influenza until 1998.

Pigs can be infected by avian influenza, human influenza, and swine influenza viruses. When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge.  Pigs are often referred to as "mixing vessels" because of this process. The multiple strains and subtypes of triple reassortant swine influenza viruses containing combinations of avian, human and swine influenza virus gene segments have emerged and become predominant among North American pigs since 1998. 

Four main Influenza A virus subtypes have been isolated in pigs: H1N1, H1N2, H3N2, and H3N1. The H3N2 viruses initially were introduced into the pig population from humans. The current swine flu H3N2 viruses are closely related to human H3N2 viruses.  Most of the recently isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses and these are genetically different from the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, which is also a triple reassortant virus.  The MN State Fair pig is the first U.S. pig to test positive for 2009 H1N1. The 2009 H1N1 virus has also been found in swine in Canada, Norway, Ireland , Japan, Iceland, China, and Australia. 

The 2009 H1N1 virus has also been detected in turkeys  in Chile and most recently turkeys in Ontario, Canada.  Thus at this time humans, swine, and poultry have all been reported to be infected with genetically compatible strains of the 2009 H1N1 virus.

November 17, 2009 US Department of Agriculture researchers reported 2009 H1N1 virus does not easily infect poultry or spread among them. The researchers inoculated chickens, turkeys, ducks, and quail with the virus and found most of the birds showed no sign of infection; some quail were infected but did not pass the virus to other quail. The authors note that two turkey flocks in Chile were infected earlier this year, but those may have been isolated event

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close contact with infected pigs. The infection of humans, swine and poultry with 2009 H1N1 is an indication of how these viruses can be shared and reassortant occur for the development of new viruses that may be a combination of human, swine and/or avian influenza viruses. 

The 2009 H1N1 virus is a triple reassortant virus for which there is little or no immunity, there is sustained human-to-human transmission, and rapid worldwide spread.  June 2009,  the World Health Organization  (WHO) declared 2009 H1N1 a pandemic influenza.   

Influenza C viruses infect both humans and pigs, but do not infect birds. Transmission between pigs and humans have occurred in the past, but transmission is rare. Unlike Influenza A, Influenza C does not cause pandemics in humans, simply due to its lack genetic diversity and limited host potential.  

In addition, all types of birds and several non-ruminant mammals (dogs, ferrets, pigs, and horses) are susceptible to influenza viruses.  Cases of H1N1 influenza virus infection “spilling over” into these animals may occur if they come into close contact with an H1N1-infected human. On October 9, 2009, an USDA laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1 infection in a ferret. The ferret's owner had previously been ill.  November 4, 2009  another case of 2009 H1N1 was confirmed in a pet ferret in Nebraska.  Also reported the same day by the Iowa State Department of Health was a confirmed case of 2009 H1N1 in a domestic (indoor) cat.  In both of these cases the owners has been ill.  Reports continue of infected dogs, ferrets, cats, and pet birds.

The best advice is to always follow common sense guidelines when dealing with animals (eg, washing your hands). In addition, it's more important than ever that pet owners keep a good eye on their pet's health and consult a veterinarian if their pet is showing any signs of illness. Keeping your pets healthy reduces their risk of becoming ill. Companion animals including , pot-bellied pigs, and birds should be monitored closely for signs of flu-like illness. Just like in people, treatment by your veterinarian will include efforts to treat the symptoms and/or prevent secondary bacterial pneumonia. It is unknown at this time whether an infected pet will harbor enough virus to spread the infection to a cage mate or uninfected humans.  See the American Veterinary Association FAQs for more information.

  


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Swine Influenza Symptoms and Treatment 

Pigs with swine influenza can be subclinical (no symptoms) to acutely ill. The Minnesota State Fair pigs exhibited no signs of the illness.  An acute outbreak of swine influenza is characterized by sudden onset and rapid spread through the herd, typically in 1-3 days.  The main signs are depression, fever (to 108°F [42°C]), anorexia, coughing, dyspnea, weakness, prostration, and a mucous discharge from the eyes and nose.  The course of the disease is usually 3-7 days in uncomplicated infections.  Some pigs may become chronically affected. In herds that are in good condition, the principal economic loss is from stunting and delays in reaching market weight.  

There is no effective treatment for swine influenza. Antimicrobials may reduce secondary bacterial infection and expectorants may help relieve signs in severely affected herds. Vaccination and strict import controls are the only specific preventive measures. Good management practices and freedom from stress, particularly due to crowding and dust, help reduce losses.  The adoption of strict biosecurity management practices will reduce the risk of introducing and/or controlling influenza the herd.

 


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Surveillance 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Swine Influenza Virus (SIV)  surveillance program. Surveillance is aimed to identify the H1N1 strain as well as other non-typical strains of SIV in swine. The immediate goals of the surveillance program are to:  

  1. Determine if the H1N1 virus strain currently exists in U.S. swine; 
  2. If the H1N1 strain is present, determine the distribution to inform further policy decisions; 
  3. Detect other novel influenza virus strains in swine in a timely manner; and
  4. Determine genetic characteristics of novel viruses necessary for vaccine and diagnostics development

 For more information – USDA SIV Surveillance Plan 

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians offers the following recommendations:

  1. Swine workers should be vaccinated against the seasonal influenza viruses and receive priority for vaccination against any novel influenza viruses.
  2. Producers should emphasize good on-farm biosecurity practices.
  3. Continue current swine influenza vaccinations to control clinical signs of disease in pigs and utilize vaccines against the novel H1N1 if shown to reduce viral shedding and the risk of transmission to pork production personnel. 

Support the USDA SIV Surveillance Plan designed to detect novel influenza virus including the pandemic H1N1. The association encourages its members to submit samples from pigs exhibiting influenza-like illness (lethargy, inappetence, fever, nasal/ocular discharge, sneezing, and coughing) to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for differential testing. Also, pigs exhibiting clinical signs of illness should not be shipped to slaughter until the clinical signs have resolved.   The USDA SIV surveillance testing is done at no charge to the producer/submitter.

 


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Biosecurity 

The US swine industry has been proactive in implementing biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of disease in herds, small and large.  The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a detailed biosecurity plan for swine producers.  Also see the EDEN Agrosecurity Topic Page – Protecting Farms – Agrosecurity Principles. See also the National Pork Board for additional biosecurity plans for swine producers.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued interim guidelines for people in contact with swine in a non-commercial setting, such as fairs, auctions, hobby farms and people who may have pet pigs.  These guidelines were issued to reduce the risk of transmission of 2009 H1N1 from people to pigs. 

The University of Minnesota also has an excellent resource for pork producers --  Be Prepared for H1N1.


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Last Updated:7/26/2013 4:34 PM
Sources:
USDA
CDC
CIDRAP
AASV
APHIS

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