Are you associated with a pig farm? Whether you work directly with pigs or not, influenza protection is a must, says Heather Fowler, DVM, director of producer and public health for the Pork Checkoff. It’s the best thing producers can do to protect their families, co-workers and pigs from the flu.
“The good news is that seasonal flu vaccinations are widely available today, including convenient options, such as a quick stop at the local pharmacy or clinic,” Fowler says. “Influenza can be addressed effectively through vaccinations, which help reduce the duration, intensity and spread of the virus. Producers are committed to protecting swine health and welfare, as well as public health.”
Why should you prioritize flu vaccinations? Seasonal flu vaccination is not only a public health recommendation, but it’s also part of the One Health approach to protect people, pigs and the global environment.
As the flu season (October-May) starts up, now is the best time to get your seasonal flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza.
“Equally important, farms need to have sick-leave policies in place that encourage workers to stay home if they are suffering from flu-like like respiratory symptoms,” Fowler says. “While it’s especially important to stay off the farm, people need to stay away from public places and take time to rest and recover. This will help shorten the duration and impact of the infection.”
Pay attention to other on-farm practices, too. Here are a few important reminders:
• Wash hands and arms frequently with soap and water. Keep hands away from mouth, nose and eyes.
• Monitor animal health daily and contact your veterinarian right away if influenza is suspected. A rapid response may minimize losses and further spread.
• Maintain proper building ventilation and barn hygiene to help reduce virus transmission.
• Make sure bird and rodent control programs are well established.
• Do not allow anyone with flu-like symptoms to enter the facility and ask visitors about recent contact with others who may have been ill.
• Don’t allow staff and caretakers to eat in animal areas.
“Getting vaccinations and following protocols to reduce the potential transmission of influenza this season is one more step in doing what’s right for people, pigs and the planet,” Fowler says.
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