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No Off-Season for Flu Vigilance

swine flu research Influenza requires a year-round diligence to maintaining a solid biosecurity plan. Whether you’re on your own farm or attending a pig show,  it pays to go back to the basics.

Periodically review herd health programs with your veterinarian to ensure that they are up to date and effective. For recommended biosecurity measures, go to pork.org/flu.

Also, take precautionary steps when attending or exhibiting at local, regional or national swine shows this winter. The document, Measures to Minimize Influenza Transmission at Swine Exhibitions, 2013, found at www. usaha.org, offers tips to help protect pigs, exhibitors and the public.

You also can go to the Pork Store on pork.org to download A Champion’s Guide to Youth Swine Exhibition: Biosecurity and Your Pig Project.

Flu Research Leverages Checkoff Investment
Influenza research is an area where Pork Checkoff’s seed money has played a big role in creating synergy to produce additional research that benefits the industry.

In fact, producers get nearly a two-to-one return, with the initial Checkoff funded generating money from outside sources. Here are some of the Checkoff-supported projects that have assisted in flu surveillance efforts:

• In 2004, University of Minnesota researchers developed a test that can differentiate between H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 influenza virus strains. It became the basis for a test now used in the national surveillance program.

• In 2008, USDA’s National Animal Disease Center was awarded a grant to look at the genetic and antigenic variation in H1 swine influenza viruses. It led to the development of virus panels and assays to determine whether a vaccine would protect against viruses that may infect pigs in the field, as well as the H1N1 vaccine work done jointly between human and animal health officials.

• In 2011, a University of Minnesota project investigated aerosol aspects of the flu virus. Researchers conducted air sampling and testing as a possible new way to monitor for influenza in swine barns. This is still in the research stage, but it holds promise.

• In 2012, an Iowa State University study evaluated oral-fluid sampling or “rope testing” as a source for on-farm influenza virus sampling. This has proven to be an effective, easy way to collect samples on the farm and has led to greater surveillance program participation. More than 4,000 submissions had been collected in 2013 through September.

The Checkoff will continue to invest in flu-related research to provide additional benefits for producers.

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