Livestock Poultry Health Response to Influenza A, "the swine flu"

Updated 5/5/09

Clemson Livestock Poultry Health is monitoring the ongoing influenza A (H1N1)- referred to in the press as swine flu - situation closely and taking appropriate steps to help protect animal and human health. This is not an animal disease outbreak. It's safe to eat pork cooked properly. Swine production operations currently do not pose a flu threat to public health. To help you learn more, we have listed informational resources below.

Preliminary investigations indicate that in all U.S. cases there was no contact with swine. The swine influenza subtype isolated from these cases is unique and not previously recognized in either pigs or people. Recently, a case in Alberta Canada was most likely transmitted from a person to pigs. In a statement U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack stressed that, "First and foremost, this detection does not change the situation here in the United States." There are still no reported cases in swine in the U.S. and the disease in humans is not a foodborne illness. (See link below)

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, This virus is different, very different, from that found in pigs. At this time there is no evidence that this swine influenza subtype is present in pigs in the United States. Because of the lack of actual swine involvement in ongoing transmission to people ProMed Mail, a communication tool of the International Society of Infectious Disease, has elected to remove the alias "swine flu" from its communications on this outbreak.

The livestock industry, while not directly affected, is ready to respond. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in making a public health emergency declaration, made the analogy to a hurricane in which we prepare for the emergency even before we know if and where the hurricane will make landfall. It is also prudent for those who are safely out of the path of this hurricane to use the event to take stock of their own preparedness. As for the flu outbreak, planning, preparation and watchful waiting are the appropriate responses for now.

We know that both avian flu and swine flu can and do escape into the human population from time to time. That is why the livestock and poultry industries have very active programs to control these diseases in animals. Human flu can also make the jump back into birds and swine, and smart producers take precautions to prevent that. Now is a good time for our livestock and poultry producers to review bio-security practices. This will help prevent a situation like that in Alberta where H1N1 flu jumps to our swine population.

Many good resources are available to provide information on influenza A (H1N1) and on biosecurity.

Pork Checkoff Swine Flu Resources

ProMed Article on origin of name "Swine Flu"

Swine Biosecurity Recommendations from Pork Checkoff

CDC Questions and Answers on Swine Flu

Statement From Secretary Vilsack On Canada Detection Of H1N1 In Alberta Swine