Ongoing surveillance for respiratory diseases in Manitoba swine herds has detected the H1N1 Flu Outbreak Virus in several herds, including sow barns, nursery and feeder pig barns in various locations in the province.

The H1N1 virus was first detected in a sow barn when sows that had been vaccinated against common strains of influenza began to exhibit flu-like symptoms. Herd samples tested positive in Manitoba Agriculture’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and were confirmed by the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg.

In the cases where the novel flu was detected, respiratory disease was very mild – minor cough and nasal discharge, depressed feed intake and slight fever. No deaths were reported in these herds. Animals recovered within 4-7 days after becoming ill. The virus did infect piglets born to infected sows, and the virus moved through the production channels to nursery, feeder and finisher sites.

Manitoba’s chief veterinary officer has requested veterinarians report signs of respiratory illness in pigs. Producers were also advised to maintain strict biosecurity measures to safeguard the health of their herds and staff.

Recently, Canadian officials have agreed that farms diagnosed with the novel H1N1 flu do not require quarantine or eradication of the pigs. The novel virus does not behave any differently in pigs than other influenza viruses detected in swine herds, and no evidence suggests that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus to the general human population.