Evira recommends pandemic flu vaccine to people working with pigs and poultry – pandemic flue suspected in one pig farm


<p>Finland has decided to offer the pandemic flu vaccine to the entire population. Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira recommends that everybody working in pig farms and poultry farms as well as veterinarians visiting such farms take this vaccination. This will help protect the animals against the disease, which is transmitted from people to pigs and poultry. The vaccination should be taken as soon as available according to the regulation of the Council of State once the vaccine is available in municipalities.</p>

Evira is currently investigating together with National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) an infection caused by the pandemic influenza virus in a pig farm. The results of the analyses will be available in the next few days. Similar infections have been found in individual pig and poultry farms in different countries since May 2009. Norway has reported the highest rate of occurrence, with the infection found in several dozens of pig farms. The infection has originally been transmitted from humans to the animals. The disease can in pigs manifest itself in various forms, from a symptomless infection to more severe symptoms of a respiratory illness. Typical symptoms include cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and fever. The symptoms persist for a few days. Mortality among pigs has been reported to be low.

Measures to prevent spreading of infection

Evira recommends that the regulations adopted within pig farming regarding animal transfers be complied with. If the animals manifest symptoms of influenza, feeder pigs can be sold from the farm two weeks and breeding animals four weeks after the symptoms have stopped.

The influenza virus is not transmitted through food, thus eating pork is safe. Food regulations forbid the slaughtering of sick animals, which means that pigs suffering from swine influenza are not accepted for slaughter either.

Evira recommends that people who have contracted influenza avoid contact with pigs. If caring for pigs is necessary when ill, appropriate respiratory mask and protective clothing should be worn in the piggery and attention paid to adequate hand hygiene.

Influenza infects both people and animals

Influenza is a typical zoonosis, that is, a disease that infects both humans and many animal species and can be transmitted both ways. There are several different influenza A viruses. However, infections from animals to people have been rare. Pigs do not contribute to the spreading of the influenza caused by the pandemic virus among people.

In Finland, normal swine influenza was found in pigs in March 2009; this disease is of a different type than the influenza that has now been found.

For more information, please contact:
Animal diseases
Ms. Taina Laine, Special Researcher, tel. +358 (0) 50 373 6614
Ms. Taina Aaltonen, Director, tel. +358 (0) 40 775 0219
Ms. Liisa Sihvonen, Research Director, tel. +358 (0) 50 553 9226

Influenza in people
Mr. Markku Kuusi, Senior Medical officer, THL, tel. +358 (0) 20 610 8935

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