The emergence of the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus reminds everyone of the impact that animals have on human health and vice versa, according to a position statement issued by the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV).

If coming in contact with swine, the AASV advises:

  • Workers should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza viruses;

  • All personnel in pork production and processing in North America should be given high priority for vaccination against any novel influenza virus that emerges in the human population;

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and federal officials and local veterinarians collaborate to facilitate vaccination plans across North America; and

  • All personnel associated with pork production and processing intensify basic hygiene and biosecurity practices.

To protect pigs against swine influenza, the AASV recommends:

  • Vaccination with currently approved swine vaccines should be continued;

  • Vaccination of swine against the H1N1 novel flu virus should be implemented if scientific evidence demonstrates that vaccination reduces virus shedding and the risk of transmission to pork production personnel;

  • Increased funding and research for rapid development of safe, effective vaccines against novel influenza viruses to reduce the risk of transmission between species and also overcome maternal immunity; and

  • Increased funding and research to enable the rapid updating of the influenza vaccines to add new strains, promote cross-protection against multiple influenza strains and facilitate the development of a differential vaccine.

For a national flu vaccine strain for swine, the AASV recommends:

  • The development of a system modeled on the World Health Organization's system for strain selection that facilitates the production of national or regional influenza vaccines for swine;

  • Increased government funding and infrastructure to support the surveillance of swine influenza strains and the development of vaccine strategies to reduce flu risks;

  • The Center for Veterinary Biologics promote new technology and streamlined vaccine approval methods to deal with potential frequency of influenza antigenic drift and shift; and

  • Universities, diagnostic laboratories and commercial organizations release their rights to ownership of influenza genetic material.

To protect both human health and the food supply in regards to herds infected with the novel type A flu:

  • Pork producers fully cooperate and actively participate in the development and implementation of local, state and federal surveillance programs;

  • Producers consult and follow the recommendations of their veterinarian to fully understand any potential new infections in their herds, and veterinarians use the best science-based information to provide appropriate control measures for those herds;

  • Movements of animals from infected herds should be supervised by the herd veterinarian in accordance with state and federal regulations and standard industry procedures; and

  • The discovery of novel influenza strains in pork production systems should be confidential regarding owner and location, and that producers be protected by indemnity if quarantine or depopulation methods are employed.

For more details on the AASV statement, go to http://www.aasv.org/.