Influenza In Pigs

  • Key Information about H1N1/09v and other pig influenza viruses
  • There is no evidence that H1N1/09v or other influenza viruses can spread to humans from pigs from eating meat or meat products.
  • As is the case with all sick pigs, pigs with clinical signs of influenza, including H1N1/09v, MUST NOT be sent to slaughter for human consumption
  • Should anyone in contact with your pigs, develop clinical signs of influenza you should immediately prevent them having any further contact with any pigs until their clinical signs have cleared. The welfare of pigs must be maintained at all times.
  • Influenza in pigs, including H1N1/09v is not notifiable in the UK and EU.
  • Influenza infection in pigs results in clinical signs of respiratory disease including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy and reddening of eyes.
  • Influenza viruses are spread by droplets of respiratory secretions, mostly via direct contact, short distance spray and on machinery, equipment and clothing (or other contaminated surfaces).
  • Affected pigs usually recover within 5-7 days (recovery can take longer if underlying health problems are present). However, the virus can circulate through a herd for prolonged periods if there are susceptible pigs present (i.e. not previously exposed to virus).
  • Disease usually spreads rapidly in susceptible groups of pigs and the mortality rate is generally low if general health status is good. However, if underlying health problems are present, clinical signs can be more severe with a longer recovery period and mortality rates can be higher.
  • Current vaccines are unlikely to protect pigs against the H1N1/09v strain. If a pig vaccine becomes available its effectiveness in preventing infection and aiding virus eradication will need to be assessed.
  • If your pigs are showing clinical signs of influenza, it is recommended you discuss further testing with your vet to determine if influenza virus is present. Your vet can submit samples for influenza testing to Veterinary Laboratories Agency and to Scottish Agricultural College Veterinary Laboratories. Testing for influenza in pigs is performed free of charge.
  • The more quickly influenza is identified in pigs, the better chance of preventing onward spread.
  • People working with pigs should follow existing guidance aimed at protecting them from diseases that can pass from pigs to humans.

Keeping it out of your herd

The introduction of influenza into pig herds is an ever-present risk. The following measures should be implemented to help prevent entry of the virus.

  • Control access of people
  • Control movement of pigs onto the farm
  • Review bio-security practices

If you suspect influenza infection in a pig herd

Influenza infection in pigs results in clinical signs of respiratory disease including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy and reddening of eyes. Disease usually spreads rapidly in susceptible groups of pigs and the mortality rate is generally low if general health status is good. However, if underlying health problems are present, clinical signs can be more severe with a longer recovery period and mortality rates can be higher.

Testing for influenza in pigs

If you suspect swine influenza in your pig herd it is important to consult your veterinary surgeon who will advise on the best course of action and organise for diagnostic investigations to be carried out. This will involve a combination of postmortem examinations, virus isolation and serological testing.

Managing influenza in a pig herd

The aim of managing influenza virus on the farm is to:

  • Stop disease leaving the infected unit
  • Minimise negative health and welfare impacts on the pigs
  • Eliminate virus from farm

You should discuss with your veterinary surgeon the most appropriate way to manage virus control and elimination in your herd. The optimal strategy will vary between herds.

Further Information

Download a copy of 'Influenza In Pigs: Code Of Practice' from Related Downloads below.

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