The only swine vaccine available to treat the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus has been sent to vaccinate a swine herd infected with the novel virus. It marks the first time vaccine has been sent to a swine herd diagnosed with the pandemic flu.

Iowa State University’s D.L. “Hank” Harris, DVM, professor of animal science, developed the vaccine this summer and has been shipping preventive doses to swine producers in Iowa, Kansas and Illinois for several weeks.

The latest vaccines were shipped to a swine producer in Indiana who had the novel H1N1 virus diagnosed in his herd.

“This is the first time we’ve had a confirmed diagnosis and the farmer wanted to vaccinate,” Harris says. “We shipped about 20,000 with about another 11,000 doses to go out to them later.”

Harris says vaccinating a herd that has already been infected should have some effect on the spread of the virus, but he isn’t sure how much.

“It isn’t uncommon for vaccinations to be used in what we call ‘the face of an outbreak,’ he says. “They (producers) may think the virus is spreading slowly in the herd, and they want to vaccinate the entire herd.”

Harris thinks the request for vaccine may indicate that hog farmers around the country are eager to vaccinate.

“Since these pigs got sick and had a confirmed diagnosis, I think more farmers are going to want to vaccinate,” he says.

The vaccine is being manufactured through Iowa State University and Harris’ startup company Harrisvaccines, Inc., d/b/a/ SirrahBios, Inc.

Harris speculates that the novel H1N1 virus may have gotten into the Indiana swine herd from humans who had flu-like symptoms while working with the pigs.

“It’s one of those things we’ll probably never know for sure,” he says.

Harris stresses that there is no threat of humans getting the H1N1 virus from eating pork from pigs that had the virus.