With the return of cooler weather and a change in how we regulate the environment in our barns and homes, it’s time again to get serious about protecting our families, coworkers and pigs from flu. With a flu season that can start as early as October and run as late as May, the Pork Checkoff reminds anyone who has contact with pigs to get a flu vaccination to help protect human and pig health.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people over six months of age should be immunized for influenza each year.

“We always recommend that producers and all swine farm workers get a flu vaccination to reduce the risk of getting sick and bringing influenza to the farm or workplace,” said Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health for the Pork Checkoff.

She also recommends that farms have sick-leave policies that encourage workers to stay away from the farm if they are suffering from acute respiratory infections.

“People with the flu can be contagious beginning a day before symptoms develop up to five to seven days after becoming sick,” Becton said.

Biosecurity Is Key

On the farm, producers need to pay special attention to maintaining proper building ventilation and excellent barn hygiene, both of which can help reduce flu virus transmission.

“A part of a regular fall routine, pork producers should ensure that curtains and fans are in working order, barns are fully bird-proofed and that rodent control is working,” Becton said. “Everyone should be following proper cleaning and disinfection protocols in all facilities and with any incoming supplies. For people, it’s always important to use farm-specific clothing and footwear because biosecurity measure can not only help prevent influenza, but also other diseases.”

flu-infoShe added, “As you monitor your herd’s health every day, be sure to contact the herd veterinarian immediately if influenza is suspected. Rapid detection of influenza can help in timely implementation of appropriate strategies to treat sick pigs and minimize any losses.”